CU in space

Hands-down the most intriguing planet known to mankind, Mars just got a new visitor. NASA’s MAVEN mission, led by the University of Colorado Boulder, slid seamlessly into its orbit in September 2014 after a breathtaking 442 million-mile, 10-month chase.

It wasn’t the first visit to Mars by the university. CU-Boulder—the only institution in the world to have designed and built instruments that have been launched to every planet in the solar system and to Pluto—provided instruments that flew on NASA’s Mariner 6, 7 and 9 spacecraft between 1969 and 1972.

CU-Boulder also is keen on deep space—faculty led the design of a $70 million instrument now flying on the Hubble Space Telescope known as the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. The instrument is probing the fossil record of gases in the early universe for clues to the formation and evolution of galaxies and stars and to reconstruct the physical condition of the early universe just after the Big Bang.

Students at the NASA-sponsored Colorado Space Grant Consortium headquartered at CU-Boulder have designed, built and flown three space shuttle payloads, two orbiting satellites, 10 sounding rocket payloads and hundreds of balloon payloads. More than 5,000 students, primarily undergraduates, have been directly involved in the consortium’s hands-on space hardware program.

As the number-one funded public university in the nation by NASA, CU also had a rich relationship with NASA’s space shuttle program until it was shuttered in 2011. Sixteen CU-Boulder astronaut-affiliates flew on 40 space shuttle missions, including two, Jim Voss and Joe Tanner, who now are on the university faculty. CU-Boulder alumnus Steve Swanson returned from a six-month stay on the International Space Station in September 2014.

BioServe Space Technologies in CU-Boulder’s aerospace engineering sciences department has designed, built and flown more than 50 payloads on more than 40 spaceflight missions on space shuttles, the International Space Station and on Russian and commercial spacecraft.

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Feature Articles

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has obtained its first observations of the extended upper atmosphere surrounding Mars. 

The Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument obtained these false-color...

The spacecraft for a NASA mission to probe the climate history of Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder slid seamlessly into orbit at about 8:24 p.m. MDT on Sunday, Sept. 21, the last major hurdle of the 10-month, 442-million-mile...

Experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center are recovering long-lost images from the Nimbus satellites, the first of which was launched 50 years ago. The pictures are allowing researchers to extend the satellite record of sea ice back to the...

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems is pleased to announce it is expanding its relationship with the University of Colorado Boulder through the signing of a letter of cooperation with CU-Boulder’s BioServe Space Technologies (BioServe...

Just before midnight Saturday, one day before the final presentation, the project came to a dead stop.

The following Monday, the student aerospace engineering team was scheduled to perform a live test of their prototype land...

Rounding out a full day of touring CU-Boulder facilities and meeting with faculty, staff and students, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden spoke to a packed house on the afternoon of April 18, 2014.

Bolden acknowledged the close association...

As an undergrad studying ecology and evolutionary biology, Lizzie Lombardi found herself as one of the few “plant” people on a team of University of Colorado Boulder engineering students who were tasked with a lofty mission: build a robotic...

Want to compare an experiment you can easily conduct on Earth to a similar one on the International Space Station, which is whipping around 200 miles over our heads at a mind-blowing 17,000 miles per hour? Well, here’s your chance.


A massive ejection of material from the sun initially traveling at over 7 million miles per hour that narrowly missed Earth last year is an event solar scientists hope will open the eyes of policymakers regarding the impacts and mitigation of...

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft thundered off the launch pad aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:28 p.m. EST Friday, beginning a 10-month journey to...


MAVEN Spectograph Image in HD

Nick Schneider and Ian Stewart of CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics talk to NASA about the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument onbooard the MAVEN mission to Mars. 

Launching rockets at Engineering Days

Sigma Gamma Tau organizes a build-your-own rocket launch at CU-Boulder.

MAVEN arrives in orbit

The spacecraft for a NASA mission to probe the climate history of Mars led by CU-Boulder slid seamlessly into orbit at about 8:24 p.m. MDT on Sunday, Sept. 21, the last major hurdle of the 10-month, 442-million-mile journey.

Roving to extreme environments: CU students work with JPL to create new robots

University of Colorado Boulder aerospace engineering students are working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create robotic rovers that can investigate some of the earth's hostile natural environments. See the rovers in action, and find out how CU-Boulder students are getting invaluable hands-on experience.

Growing vegetables in space

If humans are to go on long space explorations, to Mars or beyond the solar system, they will need to be able to grow food in space ships or or space stations. A team at CU-Boulder is developing a system for space gardening with robots.

CU-Boulder's sun-gazing satellite, designed to last 5 years, turns 10

When a sun-gazing NASA satellite designed and built by the University of Colorado Boulder launched into space on Jan. 25, 2003, solar storms were raging.

Students Help NASA Search For Earthlike Planets

CU-Boulder students will be at the controls of a new NASA spacecraft designed to hunt down Earthlike planets in other solar systems.