UAH professor wins Google grant to create research app for phones


A scientist at UAH has won a grant from Google to support developing a smart phone app to involve school children and the public in monitoring how our environment is changing.

The app, EnvEye (pronounced n-vie), will let camera-phone users track environmental changes in their own communities, as well as giving both researchers and government agencies a new tool for tracking such things as land use change and erosion.

The almost $36,000 grant will support a graduate student tasked with developing and field testing the phone application, said Dr. Udaysankar Nair, an assistant professor of atmospheric science at UAH.


UAH atmospheric scientists chasing lake-effect snows


An intrepid atmospheric science department team from UAH has departed Huntsville and is on the road north to track and measure lake-effect snowstorms from the southern banks of Lake Ontario, all in the name of better future weather forecasting.

The UAH scientific team is part of an effort called OWLeS - the Ontario Winter Lake-effect Snow project - that has component teams from six other colleges and universities plus one research center.

"A major objective of the project is to improve the forecasting of these lake-effect systems off the operating models," said Dr. Kevin Knupp, UAH team leader and professor of atmospheric sciences. Models can be refined when compared to actual data collected, sharpening forecasters' ability to pinpoint snowstorms and their effects.


Pilot program could lead to central UAH role in Mars fueling research


UAH could soon play a major role in solving a vexing refueling problem NASA would need to resolve in order to fly long-distance missions to places like Mars.

The university could become the center of interaction between NASA and European scientists doing advanced work on the problem. If a pilot program launched by the director and deputy director of the university's Propulsion Research Center (PRC) comes fully to fruition, UAH would be the clearinghouse for work in space refueling tank research.


UAH research into April 2011 tornadoes uncovers insights


Research into the violent storms that spawned killer tornadoes across Alabama and the southeastern U.S. in April 2011 continues to uncover insights into what might have caused so many powerful tornadoes, plus information about how we respond to weather news.

Scientists and graduate students from UAH recently presented information about their research at the National Weather Association's annual meeting, this year in Charleston, SC. Among the findings presented were:


ChargerSat-1 boosted into space by Minotaur rocket Tuesday night

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Members of the Space Hardware Club (SHC) at UAH were still attempting Wednesday to contact ChargerSat-1, the university's first student-built cubesat to be rocketed into space.

"We did get some indications that a number of the other satellites deployed and so it is very likely that ours also deployed," said SHC team lead Eric Becnel Wednesday morning from the launch site at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore. "The odds are that we will hear it. It's just a matter of locating it."


UAH students’ message to younger girls who like science: It’s OK!


Somewhere out there, there's a young girl in grade school who finds she has a burning interest in building things. Maybe she finds herself more drawn to math, science experiments and mechanical devices than dolls. She wonders how things work, and how they could work better.

Amy Parlett and Carolyn Boos want to say some things to that youngster, and to the thousands of grade school-age girls like her - the girls who find that they are drawn to the so-called "boy interests" of engineering, science and technology:


UAH researcher helping solve moon’s water puzzles

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One of the things Dr. Richard Miller thinks is coolest about working as part of a team investigating the origin and mapping of water on the lunar poles is that he can look up at night or when the moon rises during the day and see the object of his research.

Making a visual connection with his subject is usually not an option for the professor at UAH, who specializes in high-energy astrophysics. Now, after having been part of the discovery of surface water at Shackleton Crater at the moon's south pole, Dr. Miller finds himself on a team investigating questions that have been raised by that discovery.

"I remember as a little kid watching the Apollo missions to the moon and the lunar landings," he said. "As a little kid, I watched and daydreamed about this, and then through a series of almost random events in life to find myself working as a part of the team on this is really pretty awesome."


Warming since 1950s partly caused by El Niño


A natural shift to stronger warm El Niño events in the Pacific Ocean might be responsible for a substantial portion of the global warming recorded during the past 50 years, according to new research at UAH.

"Our modeling shows that natural climate cycles explain at least part of the ocean warming we've seen since the 1950s," said Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAH's Earth System Science Center and the new study's lead author. "But we also found that because the globe has had more frequent La Niña cooling events in the past 10 or 15 years, they are canceling out some of the effects of global warming."

The paper detailing this research, "The Role of ENSO in Global Ocean Temperature Changes During 1955-2011 Simulated with a 1D Climate Model," is scheduled for publication in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Science, and is available online at:


UAH students plan to launch themselves into cubesat business

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Two students soon to earn their master's degrees in aerospace engineering at UAH see so much opportunity in small satellites that they have formed a company to develop the technologies.

Mark and Eric Becnel are aiming their company Radiobro at providing turnkey cube satellite services to researchers who have experiments they'd like to fly, but who don't have the resources to build their own satellites to fly them.

"There's an unfilled niche there in supplying a need if a scientist wants to take an experiment and fly it in space," Eric Becnel said. "The idea is to provide that researcher with an off-the-shelf solution."


Health24 video explains UAH team’s winning concept


Check out this video about Health24 made by six computer programmers from UAH whose team won the grand prize at America's Datafest in Auburn.

The team earned $1,000 from Alabama Media Group and the opportunity to compete for the global prize. Team members Josh Jones, Jarrod Parkes, James Parkes, Mini Zeng, Prabhash Jha and Ha Giang built a set of products they call Health24 that can translate medical labels and information. It includes a list of popular medicines sorted by common symptoms, translatable into any language; a searchable database of medicines that lists interactions; and a translation tool that works from photos of medicine instructions.