Aerospace engineering grad student receives grant from NASA

  • Pardhasai Chadalavada, a grad student, and Atri Dutta, an engineering professor, received a $135,000 grant from NASA for their proposal to the Earth and Space Science and Technology program. 
  • Their project, Continuous Monitoring of Hurricanes Using RainCubes, involves programming a collection of small satellites to track hurricanes. 
  • The project is expected to take three years to complete. 

Pardhasai Chadalavada, a graduate student seeking a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering, and Atri Dutta, an assistant aerospace engineering professor, recently received a grant from NASA’s Earth and Space Science and Technology program. They submitted a proposal to NASA and were one of only 120 chosen out of 966 proposals.

The premise of their proposal has to do with RainCubes, which are small satellites that can use radar to track hurricanes. They have several advantages over the larger, more traditional satellites currently in use. According to Pardhasai, the RainCubes are cheaper, don’t have to go through such rigorous testing and take up much less space on rockets.

Pardhasai and Dutta’s idea is to create a way for multiple RainCubes to talk to each other. Because of their small size, the satellites have a smaller view angle. So, in order to track large areas, they need to form a network.

NASA already has the RainCubes, but they do not have the program needed to allow them to work together. This is what Pardhasai will be developing in the coming years. That way, when NASA needs to use the cubes, they already have a blueprint.

With direction from Dutta, Pardhasai will begin work on the project, titled Continuous Monitoring of Hurricanes Using RainCubes, in September. He plans to finish it within the next three years.

After completing the project and getting his degree, Pardhasai plans to find work in the space dynamics and controls industry. He is especially excited for this opportunity because his dream is to eventually work for NASA.

“This is a good opportunity,” he said. “If I utilize it well, I think it could help me a lot in the future.”

With an undergraduate degree from India and a master’s degree from San Jose State, Pardhasai decided the best place to continue his education is Wichita State.

“WSU has a very good aerospace engineering program,” he said. “Being a student, I think Wichita is a good place to stay because there is a great college and a great aerospace industry.”

Read more stories like this