Space Object Intelligence focuses on studying the movement of objects in space and managing space traffic. The University of Arizona’s desert environment boasts uniquely clear views of the sky, from the Sonoran Desert to the many mountain ranges that run through Tucson, making it one of the best locations for observing and researching space. UArizona possesses a diverse faculty and myriad of laboratories and observation centers that are central to the innovation of the space frontier. With nine departments involved in the Space Object Behavioral Sciences initiative, UArizona takes a leading role in the protection and exploration of space capabilities.
Our Space Competencies
Space Situational Awareness (SSA)
The goal of Space Situational Awareness is to warn, protect, or interrupt space capabilities and activities that could have detrimental effects on the earth’s surface. SSA provides leaders with intelligence to make decisions regarding the blossoming space environment. The Remote Sensing Group at the College of Optical Sciences has led to participation in round-robin laboratory calibrations with national laboratories and sensor manufacturers. The work also includes strong interactions with NASA and space agencies from other countries.
University of Arizona’s Earth Dynamics Observatory (EDO) combines strengths in space exploration, instrumentation, and earth sciences in order to learn more about our planet. EDO specializes in collecting information about Earth from space in order to provide new information about how Earth systems work, how they are changing, and how humans might anticipate and respond to changes.
The University of Arizona was the first university to head science operations for a NASA planetary mission–the Phoenix Mars Lander–and leads the billion-dollar OSIRIS-REx mission to sample an asteroid. In addition, The Space and Terrestrial Robotic Exploration (SpaceTREx) Laboratory at University of Arizona’s Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department develop systems engineering design and control solutions for space, planetary and asteroid exploration, using small spacecraft, robots and sensor network devices. Research is focused on developing enabling technologies for extreme environment exploration, interplanetary CubeSat explorers and on-orbit servicing spanning spacecraft constellations, propulsion, power and communications.
Deep Space 1
Originally designed to test a dozen new technologies including the use of an ion engine for spacecraft propulsion, Deep Space 1 far outstripped its primary mission goals by also successfully flying by the asteroid 9969 Braille and comet Borrelly. The flybys produced what are still considered some of the best images and data ever collected from an up-close encounter with an asteroid or comet.
Space Object Intelligence Facts
Space Object Intelligence research helps us understand the impact of all objects in space. Because this is becoming a common practice among military, civil, and commercial industries, research is an integral part in understanding the effects that objects like satellites have in space.
4,987 satellites revolved around the Earth’s orbit in 2019 according to UNOOSA
52% of all known near-earth asteroids & comets were discovered by the University of Arizona
UArizona leads or partners in running over 20 unique telescopes around the world
Phoenix Mars Mission was the first mission in NASA’s Scout Program
Space Laboratories and Research Centers
With our world-renowned observatories and telescopes, and pre-eminent departments and centers carrying out research in astronomy, planetary and space sciences, UArizona is perfectly positioned to take a leading role in protecting space capabilities and services from loss, interruption and degradation.
Awards in Space Sciences
Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) investments enhance the research, academic and technology capabilities of MSIs through multiyear grants. Awards assist faculty and students in research and provide authentic STEM engagement related to NASA missions.
Space flight is not just for astronauts and rocket scientists anymore. SpaceX Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission, will make the dream of orbiting Earth come true for a crew of civilians on Sept. 15. Researchers with the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, led by center director Frederic Zenhausern, will provide the first in-flight testing of multiple biomarkers of stress, inflammation and immunity measured in a zero-gravity environment to monitor the health of the four-member crew.
Aerospace and mining engineers are mapping out a plan for harvesting the moon’s resources using autonomous robot swarms and new excavation techniques. With scientists beginning to more seriously consider constructing bases on celestial bodies such as the moon, the idea of space mining is growing in popularity.
Following a brief ocean voyage, NASA’s new flagship space observatory has arrived in French Guinea, where it will be readied for launch atop an Ariane 5 rocket on Dec. 18. UArizona astronomers played key roles in designing and building the telescope’s infrared “eyes” that will allow it to peer deeper into the cosmos than any telescope before.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which will look farther back in the history of the universe than any telescope before it, has arrived in French Guiana, where it will be readied for launch on Dec. 18. University of Arizona researchers will provide leadership for two of the instruments onboard.
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