Students operate the Vibracore soil sampler rig used in soil analysis

In the past, when you mentioned the Marine Science Consortium on Wallops Island in Va., many people would think of fish and insects. It’s time to change your thinking. The field station has a new name, and the students there are now working with fish, insects and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The new name is the Chincoteague Bay Field Station and Millersville students are being given the opportunity to intern with NASA and assist in conducting research.

Students and staff have been working with NASA on a number of projects, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility (GSFC WFF) is collaborating with the field station to promote student development in the sciences and faculty research in areas of interest to NASA.

“The Field Station has a strong scientific relationship with NASA,” said Dr. Ajoy Kumar, Millersville University associate professor of ocean sciences and coastal studies, who teaches a summer course on field methods in oceanography at the Field Station. “Most of the collaborations are through PASSHE schools. Our faculty uses NASA’s equipment and NASA scientists use the field station’s boats for their research.”

Millersville faculty and students currently have two ongoing projects with NASA that they are conducting in association with the Field Station. One involves using a LiDAR, a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing the reflected light to map topographic surfaces from aircrafts and drones. NASA flies the LiDAR sensor on its drones and aircraft and supplies the data. Students collect ground data at almost the same time as the flight time to validate the aircraft based LiDAR data.

The other project in collaboration with NASA scientists involves using shipboard measurements to collect data on the Delmarva shelf region. “Our goal for this project is to collect climate quality data to understand how the warming seawater will affect oxygen and marine life in the area,” said Kumar.


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