Friday, December 18, 2009

HU NASA Satellite Mission to Study ‘Night Shining’ Clouds Extended

HU NASA Satellite Mission to Study ‘Night Shining’ Clouds Extended

AIM satellite has provided the first global-scale, full-season view of strange, iridescent polar clouds that form 50 miles above Earth’s surface.

Hampton University graduate students who work on the AIM mission.

Hampton University graduate students who
work on the AIM mission.

Noctilucent (NLC) or 'night-shining'

Noctilucent (NLC) or 'night-shining'.

Dr. James Russell, AIM principal investigator.

Dr. James Russell,
AIM principal investigator.

Hampton, VA - Hampton University recently received a contract increase of $10.2 million from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to extend the NASA Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite mission for three more years.

The HU led NASA AIM is the first satellite dedicated to the study of these noctilucent (NLC) or "night-shining" clouds. They are called "night shining" clouds by observers on the ground because their high altitude allows them to continue reflecting sunlight after the sun has set below the horizon. They form a spectacular silvery blue display visible well into the night.

“Hampton University is leading the way in innovative research,” said HU president Dr. William R. Harvey. “This mission is improving scientists’ understanding of global change.”

AIM has provided a global-scale view of the clouds over five complete cloud seasons covering both poles and has documented for the first time the entire complex life cycle of NLCs. The satellite is providing an unprecedented horizontal resolution of 3 miles by 3 miles. The AIM baseline mission ended May 31, 2009 but NASA has approved extending the satellite program through September 2012. The funding increase adds to the research base of the HU Center for Atmospheric Sciences, which supports 17 faculty, research professors and post-doctoral employees, 9 support staff and 10 graduate students.

"The AIM mission has changed our view of noctilucent clouds,” said AIM Principal Investigator and Co-Director of the HU Center for Atmospheric Sciences Dr. James Russell. "The measurements show the brightest clouds ever observed with more variability and structure than expected, signifying a greater sensitivity to the environment in which the clouds form. They also show that the cloud season turns on and off like a “geophysical light bulb” going from no clouds to 100 percent cloud presence in a matter of days and vice versa at the end of the season."

The bright "night-shining" clouds are seen by the spacecraft's instruments regularly, starting in late May and lasting until late August in the northern hemisphere and late November to late February in the southern hemisphere. The AIM satellite reports daily observations of the clouds at all longitudes and over a broad latitude range extending from 60 to 85 degrees.

The clouds are made of ice crystals formed when water vapor condenses onto dust particles in the brutal cold of this region, at temperatures around minus 210 to minus 235 degrees Fahrenheit. One potential and plausible explanation for the changes observed is that temperatures where the clouds form are becoming colder with time due to carbon dioxide build-up resulting from human activities, Carbon dioxide increases near the Earth surface cause global warming, but at 50 miles altitude, the opposite occurs. Increasing methane in the atmosphere is another possible contributing factor because it reacts with oxygen to form water vapor that is needed to form the clouds. Both gases have been increasing in the atmosphere since the early 1900s.

AIM is a NASA-funded SMall EXplorers (SMEX) mission managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The mission is led by Russell and the Project Data Center is managed at the HU Center for Atmospheric Sciences. HU undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of atmospheric science, computer science and engineering all work on the mission. The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), University of Colorado, Boulder, and the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Utah State University built instruments. LASP also manages the AIM mission and controls satellite flight operations. GATS, Inc., Newport News, Va. led the ground data system development and leads the SOFIE instrument activities. Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Va., designed, manufac tured, and tested the AIM spacecraft, and provided the Pegasus launch vehicle.

For more information on the AIM mission visit

Monday, December 14, 2009

HU Professor Named Deputy Assistant Sec., Air Force

HU Professor Appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force

Hampton, VA - President Barack Obama has appointed Associate Director of the Hampton University William R. Harvey Leadership Institute and Honors College Dr. Jarris L. Taylor, Jr. as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Strategic Diversity Integration, Washington, D.C. He will begin his appointment on Dec. 14.

Dr. Jarris L. Taylor, Jr.

“Judging Dr. Taylor from his work here at Hampton University, he will do a fine job with the Department of the Air Force,” said HU President Dr. William R. Harvey. “We wish Dr. Taylor well as he transitions from service to Hampton to service to our nation.”

Taylor will be responsible for the formulation and execution of long-range, strategic plans for Strategic Diversity Integration. In addition to strategic planning, other principal duties and responsibilities will include program development and evaluation, resource planning and management, representation and liaison, and human resource management.

“It was truly a honor and humbling experience to be nominated for such a prestigious position,” said Taylor. “As a 20-year retiree of the United States Air Force, to be called to duty once again to serve our country is a blessing and privilege.”

As associate director of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute and Honors College Taylor’s duties include the following: teaching honors and leadership courses and seminars, program management, coordinating and planning events, fundraising, grant writing, and assisting students to obtain employment, fellowships, grants, internships, scholarships, and prepare them for graduate school and life after HU.

“My past four years at my ‘Home by the Sea’ have been a wonderful experience, mentoring and teaching our leaders of the 21st century,” said Taylor. “I immensely thank Dr. William Harvey and Dr. Freddye Davy, director of Honors College, for giving me the opportunity to serve my alma mater.”

In March 1985, Taylor joined the United States Air Force to serve his country. His assignments included: Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss.; Camp O’Donnell, Republic of the Philippines; Pil Sung Range, Korea; Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colo.; Grissom Air Force Base, Bunker Hill, Ind.; and Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Va. Taylor received the bachelor’s of arts degree from Hampton University in 1995 and the master’s degree in education and human development, 1997, and the Ed.D. in higher education administration from the George Washington University in 2005.

Taylor retired from the United States Air Force in May 2005. Upon retirement he immediately pursued his career goal of working in academia and served as an adjunct professor at Regent University and at Norfolk State University. He was appointed associate director at Hampton University in 2006.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

HU J-School, LifeNet Host Organ Registration Drive

Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications will partner with LifeNet Health to host “Resurrect 12-2 While Saving Lives,” an organ and tissue registration drive on Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

LifeNet Health professionals will be in attendance to provide any information and answer questions about organ and tissue donation. Sign-up sheets will be made available for students who want to sign up as donors, as well as food, entertainment, and giveaways.

“We are hoping this event will make more students aware of how they can save many lives as an organ donor,” said Assistant Professor Dr. Francis McDonald who teaches the course.

The event is in conjunction with a semester-long professional campaign developed by the School’s public relations capstone class. The campaign aims to promote awareness and increase donor participation for LifeNet Health.

"I think everyone likes the thought of being a hero. Registering to be an organ and tissue donor allows you to save lives and be just that," said senior public relations major Melissa Patterson, a member of the capstone class.

LifeNet Health is a non-profit organ procurement organization that provides donation systems for heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, lung, and other organs for transplant. The agency is located in Virginia Beach, Va., serving most of the Commonwealth of Virginia and parts of North Carolina and West Virginia.