CU-Boulder is the only university in the world to have designed, built and launched instruments to every planet in the solar system. The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics currently has a $12 million instrument on NASA's Cassini spacecraft now at Saturn, an $8.7 million instrument en route to Mercury on the MESSENGER mission and a student-built dust counter on the New Horizons mission to Pluto launched in 2006.
A $70 million instrument designed by CU-Boulder's Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, designed to better understand how galaxies, stars and planets evolved, was installed on the Hubble Space Telescope in October 2009.
In 2008, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics was selected to lead a $485 million orbiting mission slated to launch in 2013 to probe the past climate of Mars, including it's potential for harboring life over the ages.
LASP is one of four finalists selected by NASA in December 2009 to mount a $650 million NASA mission to study the history and climate of Venus, which is expected to help predict the ultimate fate of the harsh, inhospitable planet.
Students at the Colorado Space Grant Consortium headquartered at CU-Boulder, which provides undergraduates with hands-on experience, have designed, built and flown three sounding rocket payloads, three space shuttle payloads, a satellite and hundreds of balloon experiments in the past 16 years. About 100 undergraduates designed and built a tiny communication satellite that is now slated for launch by NASA in November 2009.
A $100 million satellite designed, built and operated by LASP and launched by NASA in 2003, known as the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, or SORCE, is helping scientists learn to study how and why variations in the sun affect Earth's atmosphere and climate.
A mission control team at LASP, primarily composed of students, is operating NASA's Kepler spacecraft, launched in March 2009 to hunt down planets in other solar systems.
CU-Boulder was awarded two grants totaling $11 million in 2009 from NASA's Lunar Science Institute to probe the cosmos from robotic observatories on the moon and to conduct science and safety investigations regarding the dusty lunar surface and its atmosphere.
BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA-sponsored Research Partnership Center located in CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering sciences department, has flown payloads on more than 30 NASA space shuttle microgravity space missions, including experiments to the International Space Station and Russia's Mir Space Station. Bioserve was formed in 1989 to develop products through space and life science research in partnership with industry, academia and government using the microgravity of space.
Since 1962, 17 CU-Boulder alumni have flown on 41 space missions, spanning the entire manned flight program. CU-Boulder ranks in the top five U.S. universities, excluding military academies, in the number of astronaut alums. An 18th CU astronaut alum graduated from UC-Colorado Springs.
LASP has operated more spacecraft than all other university-based organizations combined and employs about 125 undergraduate and graduate students in all areas of science, engineering and mission operations.
CU-Boulder is the single largest university recipient of NASA research dollars in the nation, according to a 2007 report by the space agency. In fiscal year 2009, CU-Boulder received roughly $75 million from NASA.
For more information contact Jim Scott in the CU-Boulder Office of News Services at 303-492-3114.