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NASA awards planning grant for proposed research center at Texas A&M-Kingsville

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A planning grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) could result in a new research center at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

The $40,000 grant will plan for the creation of an Advanced Extra-Planetary Remote Sensing Center, a collaborative center to implement an innovative vertical integration of research and education to create pathways for minority students from high school to graduate school and beyond.

According to the NASA website, the project will support NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s advancement of technologies needed for the agency’s Artemis program. The goal of Artemis program is to land “the first woman and next man” on the Moon’s South Pole to prepare for missions to Mars, the website states.

The center will not only fulfill its research goals, but will also inspire, engage, and educate highly-qualified minority majors in NASA-related STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines, said Dr. Amit Verma, a professor who is part of the project team.

“This grant represents a recognition by NASA of the world-class technical expertise that exists at Texas A&M-Kingsville, and our potential to deliver on big aspirational goals that have a clear and significant impact on humanity’s present and future,” Verma said.

The team is comprised of Dr. Reza Nekovei (PI), Dr. Amit Verma (both Professors in Electrical Engineering), Dr. Avdesh Mishra (Assistant Professor in Computer Science), and Dr. Subbarao Yelisetti (Assistant Professor of Geophysics). The A&M-Kingsville team is joined by Dr. David Citrin (Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta and Georgia Tech Lorraine at France), Dr. Raghu Raj (Head of Radar Imaging and Target Section – U.S. Naval Research Lab), and Dr. Mohammad Ashtijou (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

Verma said remote sensing is a critical component of any extra-planetary mission, whether to the moon, another planet, Sun, or comet or an asteroid. “This helps in mapping the surface, studying the atmosphere, and studying the subsurface region for determining the composition and prospecting for water and minerals. It is only after a satisfactory result has been obtained from remote sensing efforts that NASA can plan to land a manned or unmanned vehicle.”

The planned remote sensing center at Texas A&M-Kingsville will develop advanced technologies that can be utilized for such remote sensing operations in the extreme and extremely challenging environment that space imposes, Verma said.

Aspects of this grant are built upon a recent award to Nekovei and Verma by Jet Propulsion Laboratory to initiate a study of the impact of extreme low temperatures, such as experienced in space, on the performance of nanomaterial-based devices.

The proposal acceptance letter states “by the time of completion, the planning grant is expected to design the center, identify collaborators and partners, and deliver an actionable plan for creation and management of Advanced Extra-Planetary Remote Sensing Center at TAMUK. Eventually, this project is designed to inspire, engage, and educate an increased number of highly-qualified minority majors in NASA related science, technology, and engineering disciplines as well as develop scientific and technological products and knowledge to serve NASA goals.”

Category: General Univ , Engineering

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