DSU gets $5 million grant that continues NASA space research

From left: Alan Cobb, AVP of DSU facilities management, J.D. Bartlett, director of planning and construction, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, DSU President Harry L. Williams, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, and Dr. Hacene Boukari, OSCAR scientist, stand outside of the Optical Science Center for Applied Research building where much of the research funded by the NASA grant will be done.

(From Delaware State University)
Delaware State University has recently been awarded a $5 million grant for a NASA research and education program that will continue a  partnership with the space agency.

The  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 what a release described as  a rich intellectual environment for training our 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 on developing optics-based space science technologies.:

Melikechi along with Dr. Yuri Markushin and Dr. Jun Ren, professors at DSU, and Dr. Roger Wiens of Los Alamos will lead the efforts to develop new optical technologies for space exploration – of major relevance to the ongoing (2012 and 2020) NASA MARS exploration missions.


Renu Tripathi, associate professor of physics, and her team will develop a ground-based sodium-Lidar instrument in collaboration with Goddard scientists. This instrument will be used to perform high-resolution time and space measurements of the atmospheric sodium density, temperature, and vertical wind velocity from the mesosphere region of the atmosphere.

In collaboration with Goddard researchers, DSU scientists Dr. Amir Khan and Dr. Hacene Boukari aim to develop the next generation of  infrared-based technologies for ultrasensitive detection of chemicals present in the atmospheres of planets.  Some of these chemicals could be associated with the presence of life.

The fourth project – led by Dr. Mukti Rana, chair of the Department of Physics – seeks to design and fabricate an infrared detector that does not need an active cooling system, which would be a major step in the development of  low-cost, high-performing, and low-weight detectors suitable for future space flights.
“The Optics Program at Delaware State University continues to make strides in research and development, and this grant from NASA will help it go even further in its goal of enhancing space exploration,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “They are putting the school – and Delaware – on the map when it comes to optical research, and helping the school become a hub for Kent County economic development.”