Welcome to the Department of Space Science

cramer hall

Created in September 2013, the Department of Space Science is the newest department at UAH. Space research is one of the key areas where UAH is a recognized leader, and our department was created to develop a corresponding academic program with a national ranking. We are now accepting applications from students for Doctoral and Master's degree programs in Space Science, starting in the Fall of 2015. The department enjoys close collaborations with the Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) and with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Our faculty and researchers study cosmic plasmas and radiation and how they interact with each other from microscopic to galactic scales. In fact, over 99% of the visible Universe is in a plasma state. We employ cutting edge observational and modeling techniques to learn about this most abundant, yet still enigmatic, form of matter. We are a graduate-only degree department with a strong research focus. Our students develop a broad spectrum of skills, including computational science, data analysis, analytic theory, and even space instrumentation development. Our graduates work at NASA centers, national labs, universities in the US and abroad, as well as in private industry. The Department also runs several summer schools and an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program.

 

Our areas of expertise include
  • Outer atmosphere of the Sun,
  • Solar wind,
  • The heliosphere,
  • Interstellar medium,
  • Gamma-ray bursts,
  • Cosmic rays.

The solar wind creates a bubble in space, four times larger in size than the orbit of Neptune, we call the heliosphere. This colossal plasma shield protects us from harmful radiation permeating the Galaxy. In 2012 NASA's Voyager 1 space probe left the solar system and is now humanity's first outpost in interstellar space. Our faculty and researchers use data from Voyager and IBEX to understand how the heliosphere works.

heliosphere 1000

Above: a three-dimensional view of the heliosphere, the plasma shield between our solar system and the Milky Way galaxy. For the first time in history a robotic explorer investigates space beyond the shield.

The Universe is filled with sources of very energetic plasma, which may be highly directional, in the form of jets. These can be observed at X-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths, as well as in the form of energetic particles, known as cosmic rays, that have been accelerated at the sources. Researchers in the Department of Space Science have access to Chandra X-ray and Fermi gamma-ray data. Such observations can be used to map out the parameters of the expanding Universe.

 

Download a printable Department brochure here.