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
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
Aerospace Catalysts Experiences for Students balloon project at NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in
Palestine, Texas, in May.
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.