Firefly is a small satellite mission with big plans. The size of a
football, Firefly will study the most powerful natural particle
accelerator on the Earth...lightning. In addition to the tremendous
heat, light, and noise generated near the Earth's surface, lightning can
also generate powerful beams of electrons and gamma-rays, which can be
observed only by satellites, and which are known as Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs).
The ‘Firefly’ CubeSat satellite will investigate Terrestrial Gamma Ray Flashes (TGFs) when it launches in 2010.
Firefly will make simultaneous measurements of escaping energetic
electrons accelerated over thunderstorms, the gamma rays produced by the
electrons, and the radio wave and optical signatures of the
Students working on Firefly will come from three primary partner
colleges: Siena College, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and
University of Maryland College Park. After launch, students from
Pocomoke High School in Pocomoke City, MD (next door to the Hawk
Institute) will have the opportunity to work with mission operations and
data analysis, as well.