Firefly: An NSF CubeSat Project
What is Firefly?

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 lightning discharge.


The Firefly Project would like to acknowledge the following for their support and contributions:

The National Science Foundation

Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI)

Student Participation

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.


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