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College of Arts and Sciences

Working with NASA

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The NASA-High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) offers a high-altitude balloon platform for 12 teams of universities in USA, Canada, and Europe, every year since 2007 to conduct the science experiment and testing research in the space. The UNF team has been selected every year for NASA-HASP flight since 2008 and has successfully made 14 HASP balloon flights and measured ozone gas profile. A standard interface is supplied for each student payload that includes power, serial telemetry, discrete commands, and analog output. HASP will archive student payload data on-board as well as telemeter the stream to the ground for real-time access. 

Dr. Patel developed the ozone sensors at UNF in 2007. His nanocrystalline thin film gas sensors were successfully tested with ozone gas at the Kennedy Space Center. Sensors were integrated with electronic circuit of the students’ payload. The payload was launched on a small balloon flight, but the first flight was not recovered. Dr. Patel, jointly with the University of North Dakota, developed the new ozone sensors payload in 2008 and his team was selected for NASA-HASP 2008 flight. The payload successfully measured the ozone gas profile in the stratosphere.  

Every year, the UNF team tried to improve the performance of ozone sensors, electronic hardware, software, and payload body. Students worked to fabricate nanocrystalline thin film gas sensors, testing and calibration of sensors in Dr. Patel research laboratory. They also fabricate hardware, programming, and construction of the payload body. The ozone sensors work was part of Dr. Patel gas sensors research work. The sensors work was funded by the Department of Defense, US Army and later by NASA-FSGC to develop the payload. Dr. Patel has two U.S. patents on gas sensor, one patent on odor sensor and one patent on biosensor. 

UNF team also made two high altitude balloon flights of the space industries companies: one in 2015 by World View Enterprise company, Tucson, AZ and other in 2021 by Space Perspective, Kennedy Space Center, FL. Both companies invited Dr. Patel and his team and tested the payload on their first test flight. Every year three to four students take part actively, and so far, more than 40 students have taken part. Two female students were accepted into the NASA-Pathway internship and then employed at Kennedy Space Center, and another student was employed at Northern Grumman Co. Several students were able to receive jobs in the industry with companies such as Saft America, Vistakon, Medco, etc. Recently, Dr. Patel's team was selected and funded for two years by NASA-Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Program (NEBP) and FSGC. Four students from the UNF team will work on an Annular Solar Eclipse in 2023 and Total Solar Eclipse in 2024 balloon flights. Dr. Patel’s talent and hard work has allowed his students to participate in this amazing opportunity and has helped them excel outside the classroom.