UTC Scientists Land NASA Research Award

  • Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Associate Professor Azad Hossain is an environmental geoscientist in the UTC Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Science
Associate Professor Azad Hossain is an environmental geoscientist in the UTC Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Science
photo by Angela Foster/UTC
For the first time, researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have received the Research Initiation Award from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Associate Professor Azad Hossain, an environmental geoscientist in the UTC Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Science, was the principal investigator on award funding of $299,998 from NASA for the project titled “Remote Sensing of Water Quality in the Tennessee River.”
Professor Hong Qin, head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and University of Mississippi Senior Research Scientist Xiaobo Chao were co-investigators.
Hossain’s expertise lies in geospatial technology, and the general focus of his research interests are in the geological and environmental applications of GIS, remote sensing and spatial analysis coupled with numerical modeling.

“The name of the grant program is Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science, and we typically call it ROSES. It’s a very prestigious, nationally competitive grant,” said Mr. Hossain, who joined the UTC faculty in fall 2016. “I’ve been working with geospatial technology and remote sensing for more than 25 years, and this award is a dream for any scientist who works with satellite and remote sensing.
“I know the significance of this program. I know it’s an elite research program and—with NASA putting UTC’s name on it—it gives me great pride and satisfaction to say, ‘We got it.’”
ROSES, Mr. Hossain said, is NASA’s nationally competitive research grant opportunity. The specific two-year RIA provides the foundation to develop research that is competitive, sustainable and productive.
“This research is about estimating water quality in the Tennessee River and using NASA’s satellites,” he said, “and one of NASA’s signature observation satellite programs called Landsat. The way this research works is that you have satellite images taken every 16 days; to estimate water quality, you have to be in the water right at the same time that the image is being taken. There is no other option.
“So we have those measurements and NASA has their measurements. Then we couple them to develop the model.”
Over Mr. Hossain’s time as a researcher, satellite technology has provided a bird’s eye view of water quality, but understanding inland water bodies like those in the Tennessee River has been tricky. Until recently, there wasn’t a way to use satellite images to study water quality in this region.
To change that, Mr. Hossain initiated research to explore the potential of remote sensing technology to study surface water quality in the watersheds of Southeast Tennessee using satellite observations coupled with field measurements.
“As a matter of fact, there have been studies of other major rivers in the U.S. using NASA satellites, but nothing had been done on the Tennessee River,” he said. “So that gave me an opportunity.”
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