CSPAR Mission

The Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville is dedicated to developing world-class research and providing outstanding graduate education opportunities in the physics of plasmas found in natural environments throughout the universe. This includes the Sun, the interplanetary medium, the Earth’s upper atmosphere, other solar system bodies and extrasolar planets and planetary formation, stellar environments, the interstellar medium, high-energy astrophysics and high-energy atmospheric physics, and the basic physical processes and complex coupling that occur in these environments. To understand highly complex systems that possess multiple scales and coupled physical processes, CSPAR researchers employ advanced theory, comprehensive modeling, and instrument development programs for both remote sensing and in situ observations, including building and operating ground and space-based solar and gamma-ray instruments and analyzing and interpreting their data and collaborating with other observational group for solar and space physics. In support of the UAH goals of promoting and building graduate education, CSPAR researchers collaborate closely with academic departments in supporting graduate and undergraduate student research activities in providing access to a world-class research center.

CSPAR is a leader in high-performance computing at The University of Alabama in Huntsville and in the state of Alabama. Its current computing capabilities include three distributed-memory clusters used in scientific computing and several shared memory servers and workstations used for data processing and visualization. Our systems currently include the following:

  • The “Bladerunner” cluster is the flagship of our supercomputer park. It has 400 2.66 GHz Intel Xeon cores, 800 GB of RAM, and 5 Tbytes of disk storage.  Bladerunner has fast Infiniband connection between the nodes.


As a part of the Research Division, some of our focus areas include:

  • Cosmic ray astronomy
  • Gamma ray astronomy
  • Gravitational physics
  • Space plasma physics
  • Optical remote sensing
  • Pulsed power plasmas
  • Magnetospheric physics
  • High energy plasma space propulsion
  • Low energy plasma dynamics
  • Ionospheric physics
  • Auroral physics
  • X-ray astronomy
  • Astrobiology
  • Space weather
  • Solar physics
  • Aeronomy







Gary P. Zank 

Dr. Gary Zank received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Natal in South Africa in 1987. Gary is an Eminent Scholar and Distinguished Professor, Director of Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR), and Chair of the Department of Space Science (SPA) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Gary is has been recognized in his field through the receipt of numerous honors and awards throughout his career. In 2017, he was named the University of Alabama Board of Trustees Trustee Professor, the first and only University of Alabama System faculty member to achieve this position. In part, this was in recognition of Dr Zank being elected in 2016 as a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the only person in AL to be a member of this august body. He was recognized internationally in 2015 with the AOGS Axford Medal, the highest honor given by the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS). Other awards include his being a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2017, he was also elected an AOGS Honorary Member and was chosen by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) to be the 2017 Johannes Geiss Fellow. One of his publications has been recognized as one of the twelve “classic papers” ever published in the Journal of Plasma Physics. Gary is dedicated to his research, which is clearly represented in his achievements over the years and categorizes him as a cutting-edge leader in the world of space physics.



Since 1986, the Center for Space Plasma & Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) at UAH has been dedicated to fostering excellence in research and education to understand the role plasmas play in space, stars, our Sun and and planetary environments. Dr. S. T. Wu founded CSPAR in 1986 and served as its Director until his retirement on June 30, 2005.  He has served at The University of Alabama in Huntsville since 1967 (~40 years). Dr. S. T. Wu served as Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of Alabama System, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The University of Alabama in Huntsville until his passing on Sunday May 21, 2017.



Cramer Hall/ NSSTC
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Huntsville, AL 35899
CH 2002