COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Drawings of laser beams, Hubble space telescopes and three-dimensional graphs decorated bulletin boards in science buildings at the University of Maryland Thursday, during an open house that put the college’s research labs on display.
In one room, graduate students Petras Avizonis and Daniel Dowling, completing doctorates in astrometeorology, presented their research, which corrects photographs of the atmosphere.
“On a hot day when you’re driving, you look in the distance and you see waves,” Dowling said. “It’s the same thing when you take pictures of the atmosphere. The stars are smeared and distorted.”
Their image technology research helps astronomers map out paths for satellite systems and may eventually lead to a breakthrough in helping drivers see better in the fog, Dowling said.
The astrometeorology department is linked to the multi- billion dollar Starfire Optical Range, a laboratory in New Mexico. Starfire’s resources enable University of Maryland students to conduct research that would otherwise be impossible, Avizonis said.
Other departments also stressed the importance of sharing discoveries.
Dr. Roald Sagdeev and two of his colleagues are part of the East-West Space Science Center, a technological exchange between the United States and Russia. They recently received a research grant from the National Science Foundation and created a powerful laser beam equivalent to “a bullet of light,” Sagdeev said.
Although most departments focus on matters pertinent to their field, the Center for Microanalysis stretches into other areas.
“Anything that has been developed in the last 10 years on a microscopic level, such as computer chips and packaging, we handle,” said Gene Taylor, director.
Pictures of electronic microchips exposed to high temperatures and humidity were on display.
The glass components of the microchip broke when left in the sun, and its plastic parts melted slightly, Taylor said. “In real life we have problems like these” that have to be solved, he said.