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Saad Biaz is the co-PI of an award of $893,873 granted by the National Science Foundation to study the structure of powerful gamma-ray flashes associated with thunderstorms in the tropical regions of Earth using two tiny satellites called “Cubesats.” The research is a collaborative project between Auburn University and the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Jean-Marie Wersinger, associate professor of physics, is the lead principal investigator of this project. This mission requires a multidisciplinary collaboration involving physicists, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and computer scientists.
Ultimately, the Cubesats will be built by undergraduate students. While the sensors will be designed and built by the UAH collaborators, Biaz is advising electrical engineering and computer science students to design and build the computing system in charge of the control, navigation, science data management and communications of the satellite. The objective is to deliver the two Cubesats to NASA for launch in three years.