Harvard University Student’s Project Selected for NASA
Harvard University is very selective with its students and has a very competitive environment in their academic apartment. Undergraduates from Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) were one of the few projects that got selected for NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Project.
Its goal is to fund projects that can build instruments that can measure the effects of climate change. This project is also an opportunity for their work to be launched by NASA for their suborbital and orbital research.
The chosen team received $200,000 for their instrument which is a spectrometer that measures hydrochloric acid in the atmosphere. James G. Anderson is professor of atmospheric chemistry and has been doing his own research about the relationship between chemistry and climate.
He usually teaches electrical engineering and mechanical engineering students about atmospheric chemistry. His course is called Engineering Problem Solving Design Project (ES 96).
This is not an average class where you just sit down and listen this is very hands on. And as part of the course requirement, students have to tackle specific design problems that can be used in the real-world and can contribute to the health of the atmosphere.
There is a problem with the earth’s stratospheric ozone because storms cause water to be pulled from the lower troposphere deep into the stratosphere. SEAS students needed to build an instrument that can be carried up into the atmosphere. It had to be lightweight and be able to withstand the changing pressures in the atmosphere.
The team who was granted the funds were able to build a software design that could help them better understand the chemical reactions in the stratosphere. The additional water that has been pulled deep into the stratosphere causes a series of chemical reactions that destroys the ozone layer.
This effect is causing a change in the climate that needs to be understood immediately. Changes like this cause sudden change with the weather that could lead to violent storms and other calamities.
Although their design is still a prototype, their goal is to make the instrument NASA qualified for it to be successfully launched into the stratosphere. This project is bigger than any other team that they had worked with before. The success of their project could be the answer to solve our problem with the atmosphere.
There are several catastrophes that explain why climate change is very dangerous. Their project could change the world of atmospheric chemistry and will help us understand what is going on in the atmosphere that causes climate change. Climate change can cause a drastic change in temperature.
Heat wave is a good example and has caused so many deaths back in 2010. Flooding and storms is also a result of climate and makes up almost 90% of the natural disasters in the world. Disasters like this cost billions to fix and takes a huge toll on the economy.
Once their instrument is ready to use and ready to be taken up into the atmosphere, scientists might be able to find ways on how to reduce the damages in the stratospheric ozone.