DSU awarded new $5M NASA research grant

DOVER, Del. – Delaware State University was awarded a $5 million grant for a NASA research and education program that will continue its partnership with the space agency.

Built on the success of a previously NASA-funded program at DSU, this new program will strengthen the partnerships and collaborations with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Delaware; enhance the research capabilities at DSU; and provide a rich intellectual environment for training  students.

Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, founder the University’s Optics Research Program, and the director of the Optical Science Center for Applied Research (OSCAR) at DSU, is the principal investigator of the grant.

“It is with great pride that DSU will continue to be connected to NASA’s Mars mission through the work of Dr. Noureddine Melikechi and OSCAR,” said DSU President Harry L. Williams. “The research funded by this grant will not only make its mark on the world, but far beyond it on the Red Planet.”

The program includes four major research projects centered on developing optics-based space and science technologies, including space exploration; a sodium-Lidar instrument to perform high-resolution time and space measurements: infrared-based technologies for detection of chemicals in the atmospheres of planets; an infrared detector for space flights.

Through OSCAR, the optics program at DSU has had long-standing relations with NASA’s Mars Mission through Melikechi’s work as a member of the mission’s ChemCam team. The ChemCam technology installed on the Mars Rover – which landed on Mars in 2012 and subsequently did laser-based analysis of the Red Planet rocks and soil – sent data back to Earth, which Melikechi and Dr. Alissa Mezzacappa worked on with their colleagues from ChemCam.

Gov. Jack Markell said that DSU understands the tremendous value in providing its students and faculty with access to leading edge tools and technology. “OSCAR is a testament to DSU’s commitment and this NASA grant will support the University’s efforts,” Gov. Markell said. “We congratulate DSU on this award and are excited to see the results of their research in the coming years.”

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