Boise State students head to Greenland for project with NASA

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by Stephanie Zepelin

NWCN.com

Posted on May 4, 2013 at 10:05 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 11:51 AM

BOISE -- Two Boise State Students have the special opportunity to work with one of the top names in science, NASA.

The graduate students designed a roving radar system and piqued the interest of the science giant. Now they've traveled to another country to test it out.

Mark Robertson went back to school at Boise State studying geophysics. He jumped on board with Assistant Professor HP Marshall's latest project.

"He (Marshall) does a lot of remote sensing, specifically using radar to detect snow pack properties. So we've been doing various uses of the radar to measure the snow, snow pack," said Robertson.

That radar project led him somewhere Robertson never expected.

"HP came to me six weeks ago now and said, 'hey we've got this thing in Greenland. Would that work?' And I was nodding my head immediately, 'Yeah that'll work just fine,'" Robertson said.

Robertson and fellow graduate student Gabriel Trisca will be in Greenland...where last summer scientists saw the first record melt in the history of that country. And they'll be working with NASA.

"It's really hard to stay on a single project for so long but i really like all these robotic things," said Trisca.

Gabriel Trisca is pursuing a masters in computer science. He's teamed up with HP Marshall and Mark Robertson on the radar rover project.

"I wrote the software, that is more or less the brain of the robot," Trisca said.

Trisca enjoyed working with folks from another discipline. He's also looking forward to collecting data on the ice sheet in Greenland.

"In geosciences you have to go and collect this data and then you work on data that reflects the real world. In computer science, you would get a list of documents or a list of words and you would process them. But essentially they are not so relevant to answering questions about any real world problems," said Trisca.

"I did not imagine Greenland. Of course you always have kind of a hope for these kind of things You want to have a good imagination," said Robertson.

The robot left a few days earlier, but Robertson and Trisca left late this week. They'll be in Greenland for the project for about five weeks.

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