ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) -

A St. Cloud State University physicist has learned he will soon be part of a NASA project to study the Earth's atmosphere.

John Harlander tells the St. Cloud Times he'll be part of a team that will develop instruments for a satellite mission that will be launched in 2017.

Harlander will design, build and test an optical instrument to measure winds and temperatures in the upper layer of the Earth's atmosphere. The mission will study fluctuations that interfere with communications and GPS satellites, which NASA says can have an economic impact on the U.S.

Harlander will also be part of the data analysis once the satellite is collecting information from space.

He says he's excited, and has been competing for funds for the project for the last three years.