DSU professor receives $700k to study Earth's magnetic field
A Delaware State University researcher has received more than $720,000 from NASA to research the Earth’s magnetic field — 31 to 50 miles above its surface.
Funding from NASA's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research will allow Renu Tripathi, a DSU physics and engineering professor, to build an instrument that measures the Earth’s magnetic force at mesospheric altitude.
The device — a sodium laser magnetometer — can excite the sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere.
"When you excite any atom with appropriate light, the atom absorbs the light and after a certain time it radiates the light back. We collect that back radiation which is emitted by the atom through a telescope," Tripathi said.
Tripathi will team up with DSU professor Gour Pati, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and several students to conduct field tests. They'll then study the remaining sodium atoms to look at any changes the magnetic field caused.
"If it can be done successfully, it will be used in future missions through satellites. So we can actually take the whole system to a satellite, send the laser beam to different planets, and actually study the dynamic structure of the planet, the magnetics and weather," Tripathi said.
Tripathi says if this is done successfully, it could be used in future missions with satellites. It could be sent to planets like Mars or Jupiter to study their structure, magnetics and weather.
The grant will pay for the equipment and will fund two new graduate students and several undergraduate students.