McNeese Student Selected for NASA Internship
McNeese State University engineering junior Anthony Miller, of Sulphur, is one of 13 undergraduates from Louisiana institutions to receive a NASA-funded summer internship focused on what happens inside thunderstorm cells at high altitudes.
This 10-week internship looks into the correlation of terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, electric fields and lightning strikes in storms. This project revolves around a ballooning project sponsored by the Louisiana SPACE program located on the Louisiana State University campus and funded by NASA’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
The interns are working with LSU staff members on research and development that will include gamma-ray flashes detection, flight software, telemetry (measurements) and a ground station (a facility linked to a communications satellite).
Miller says he is working specifically with electric field mills, or specialized instruments used to measure the strength of electrical fields in the atmosphere during a lightning thunderstorm.
“We are correlating these electrical fields to terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, which are the highest-energy light waves on the electromagnetic spectrum,” adds Miller. “TGFs have been linked to lightning strikes during thunderstorms and our research will bring us closer to understanding why this happens.”
He heard about the internship while working as project manager with a team of McNeese students who participated in the Louisiana Aerospace Catalysts Experiences for Students balloon project at NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, in May.
“Mechanical engineering professor Dr. Zhuang Li told us about the internship,” Miller says. “It sounded like a great opportunity to continue my research experience with high altitude ballooning, engineering and physics. I applied and was accepted.”
He says this internship will provide him with the hands-on experience that will better prepare him for his continued undergraduate research studies here at McNeese.
“I also think this internship will provide me with a great advantage when I apply for graduate programs after I graduate,” adds Miller.