Dennis Akos

Dr. Akos' research focuses on satellite navigation, particularly all aspects related to the receiver design/implementation. He pioneered the application of the software radio architecture to satellite navigation receiver design which has provided tremendous insight into the operational characteristics. He is the co-author of the text: A Software-Defined GPS and Galileo Receiver: A Single-Frequency Approach. His current research interest involve receiver design and testing for various GNSS, including GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and Compass; utilizing GPS/GNSS for remote sensing; RFI/spoofing detection, localization, and mitigation algorithms for GPS/GNSS 

Penina Axelrad

Dr. Axelrad's research focuses primarily on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and their application to positioning, attitude determination, and remote sensing. She is also interested in satellite navigation and orbit estimation more broadly, including orbit determination using optical observations of geosynchronous objects and estimation approaches for space situational awareness. In the GNSS area her group is currently working on techniques for weak signal acquisition, modeling and detection of multipath errors, and detection of atmospheric turbulence in GPS data collected from LEO occultations and ground-based receivers.

Natasha Bosanac

Dr. Natasha Bosanac’s research focuses on using the chaos of multi-body dynamical systems (e.g. Earth-Moon system, Sun-Earth system, binary star systems) to advance astrodynamics and celestial mechanics applications. For instance, leveraging the underlying dynamics of a system via equilibrium points, periodic orbits, quasi-periodic orbits and manifolds supports efficient and informed trajectory design approaches. Dr. Bosanac’s research group currently advances this strategy to enable and enhance a wide variety of complex missions, including:

  • Applications from traditionally large monolithic spacecraft to smaller vehicles with a CubeSat or SmallSat form factor,
  • Applications from individual spacecraft to formations or large swarms,
  • Reducing the propulsive effort and/or flight time required for a given mission,
  • Accommodating low-thrust and other propulsion systems in the design of feasible trajectories,
  • Exploiting trajectory design to access new destinations within the solar system,
  • Supporting reusability and longevity of space-based assets via robotic servicing, and
  • Reducing the complexity and computational time required for trajectory design activities.

Bobby Braun

Dr. Braun leads an active research program focused on development of advanced concepts and technologies for entry, descent and landing systems and hypersonic flight vehicles. His research integrates conceptual design and analysis, technology development, computational modeling, and experimental validation towards the advancement of novel planetary exploration systems. A majority of this work is performed in the domains of hypersonic aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics, flight mechanics, guidance, navigation, and control through mission and flight system design.

Robert Culp

Earlier work included optimal orbit maneuvers, atmospheric entry theory, perturbations, and satellites’ atmospheric drag and decay. Dr. Culp recently served on the NRC Committee for Near-Earth Object Strategies and the Saving Planet Earth Report, and was a member of the NRC ISS Meteoroid and Debris Risk Committee. He has conducted major research over the past three decades in space debris and attendant problems.

William Emery

Dr. Emery's research focuses on study of ocean surface processes such as sea surface temperature, ocean color, surface currents, coastal satellite altimetry. The development of processing software for operational weather satellites. Study of high-resolution satellite imagery for urban change detection and mapping of disaster effects. Application of high and moderate resolution satellite imagery to the study of terrestrial vegetation and its variations. Using very-high spatial resolution satellite imagery to study road surface condition changes and other urban effects.
This research group also is involved with the deployment of a variety of sensors on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to study the Earth in particular in polar regions. In 2012 and 2013 summers they will be conducting a large study of the Marginal Ice Zone using a number of drone aircraft. 

Delores Knipp

Space weather effects on satellite drag; geospace system science; combined use of commercial-and research-grade space-based instruments for sensing space weather; data assimilation. 

Kristine Larson

Kristine Larson focuses  on high-precision GPS applications, mostly for geoscientists. Her current research focuses on GPS reflections. The  reflections are used to study near-surface soil moisture, vegetation, and snow depth. A special effort focuses on developing water cycle products from EarthScope data: PBO H2O.

Robert Marshall

Dr. Marshall's research group studies a variety of space science topics, including lightning and its coupling to the ionosphere and magnetosphere; meteors and their signatures in the atmosphere; and the precipitation of radiation belt electrons into the upper atmosphere. What these topics have in common is that they are all natural manifestations of dynamic plasmas in the near-Earth space environment. Through these and other mechanisms, the space environment is coupled to the upper atmosphere and has direct effects on humanity. We design and build new instruments to observe and measure these aspects of the space environment, including optical instruments, electric field mills, low-frequency radio receivers, x-ray detectors, and particle detectors. We collect and analyze data, and apply advanced inversion tools, including machine learning and Kalman filtering techniques, to interpret these data. We also develop numerical modeling tools to predict and interpret the physical mechanisms at play.

Tomoko Matsuo

Tomoko Matsuo's main research interest is the design and development of statistical inferential methodologies for Earth and Geospace environmental observations, including the modeling of spatio-temporal random scalar and vector fields and designing sequential Monte Carlo methods for high-dimensional dynamical systems. She is fascinated by the process of unearthing and characterizing underlying statistical and physical properties hidden in data by means of statistical inference. Data assimilation is a good example of such a process.

Her research focuses on data assimilation of various types of remotely sensed and in-situ measurements into numerical models of Earth and Geospace systems, encompassing the Earth's whole atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetosphere. She is also interested in integrating design and development of engineering systems into geophysical modeling and prediction. Data assimilation provides an excellent framework for such investigation, and facilitates optimizing the instrumentation design and deployment of observing systems. Other areas of interest include the quantification of predictability of the whole atmosphere and ionosphere through applications of the dynamical systems theory, estimation theory, and information theory.

Jay McMahon

Dr. McMahon conducts research in spacecraft guidance, navigation, and control (GNC), astrodynamics, and small body science - specifically asteroids and comets. Although there are many exciting areas of research in these fields today, his focus is on the following areas which he finds to be crucial to humanity’s future in space:

  • Spacecraft autonomy
  • Asteroid missions and resource utilization
  • Orbital debris
  • Asteroid dynamics and evolution
  • Commercial space

Jade Morton

Dr. Jade Morton's research interests lie at the intersection of satellite navigation technologies (GPS/GNSS) and remote sensing of the ionosphere, atmosphere, and Earth surface using navigation satellite signals.  Her research team have been conducting experiments and developing new ground-based, airborne, and space-borned GPS/GNSS receiver technologies and algorithms for navigation in challenging environments and for monitoring space weather, troposphere structures, and ocean surface conditions.  

Robert Nerem

Dr. Nerem's research is focused on measuring changes in the Earth using satellite measurements. He has used satellite altimeter measurements to measure sea level change as well as satellite gravity measurements to measure changes in the distribution of water and ice on the Earth. He is considered one of the leading experts on observations of sea level change. He is also active in projects exploring applications of GPS, as well as innovative uses of astrodynamics and precision orbit determination.


Scott Palo

Dr. Palo's research focuses on remote sensing of the near Earth space environment, in particular the mesosphere and thermosphere, and the development of small satellite systems. Dr. Palo currently develops and deploys meteor radar systems to measure the winds in the mesosphere utilizing specular reflections from ionized meteor trails and shares space with Dr. Thayer in the Active Remote Sensing Lab (ARSenL). He is also involved with the development of pico and nanosatellites for space weather applications. Students in Dr. Palo's research group are engaged in the development of ground-based meteor radar and space hardware, analysis of radar and satellite observations and the use of atmospheric global circulation models. 

Hanspeter Schaub

Dr. Schaub is the H. Joseph Smead Associate professor of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences department. He is an associate fellow of AIAA and member of AAS. His 13 years of professional interests are in nonlinear dynamics and control applications, with a special emphasis on astrodynamics. He performs research in spacecraft attitude and control, exploiting nonlinear dynamics of control moment gyros to avoid classical CMG singularities, adaptive control with prescribed closed-loop dynamics, as well as extensive research in near-Earth spacecraft formation flying problems. Prior to his University of Colorado appointment he spent 4 years as an assistant professor at Virginia Tech. Prior to Virginia Tech Dr. Schaub worked 4 years at the Sandia National Labs Intelligent Systems and Robotics Center (ISRC). At Sandia he worked on the dynamics, simulation (both hardware-in-the-loop and workstation based) and control of a Navy ship mounted crane control project, on the control of swarms of autonomous robotics systems, as well as the development and integration of a robotic visual servoing system based on statistical pressure snakes. He has authored over 40 peer reviewed papers, presented 66 conference papers, published a text book on analytical mechanics of space systems, and holds a patent on a noncontact position and orientation measurement system. 

Daniel Scheeres

Dr. Scheeres’ research spans the topics of astrodynamics and spacecraft navigation to planetary science and celestial mechanics and has published extensively in these fields. One primary focus of Scheeres’ research is studying the mechanics of small bodies (such as moons and asteroids) with applications to planetary and asteroid missions. A separate focus of Scheeres' research is in the field of Space Situational Awareness, where his lab studies the dynamics and estimation of orbital debris and active satellites. Most recently, Scheeres is serving as the Radio Science Lead and Co-Investigator for NASA’s OSIRIS REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission. 

Jeffrey Thayer

Dr. Jeff Thayer’s research program focuses on studying the aerospace environment of our Earth’s atmosphere and geospace environment. He specializes in geophysical fluid dynamics, gas and plasma interactions, thermodynamics, and electrodynamics applied to the upper atmosphere (above 10 km altitude) and geospace. This field of research has increased over the years as our society rapidly becomes more dependent economically and socially on access to space and space assets. Understanding the upper atmosphere and geospace environment is critical for our “space” society. Dr. Thayer also specializes in active remote sensing techniques employing engineering concepts to design, develop, deploy and apply laser radars (lidars) to upper atmosphere studies and apply radar techniques to geospace studies. The active remote sensing techniques engage engineering concepts and solutions with an acute understanding of the scientific purpose. This effectively bridges and balances engineering concerns with scientific expectations. 

Christopher Williams

Dr. Williams’s research focuses on understanding the dynamics and microphysical processes occurring in precipitating cloud systems with the ultimate aim of improving rainfall estimation from space and improving numerical weather forecasting models. His research approach bridges the fields of engineering and geosciences. From an engineering prospective, his research analyzes ground, airborne, and satellite-based multi-frequency radar observations to estimate rainfall rate, vertical air motion, and the number and size of raindrops within clouds. Developing rainfall retrieval algorithms requires a technical understanding of radar systems, electromagnetic wave propagation, and numerical inverse retrieval methodologies. With regard to geosciences, his research relies on cloud microphysics and dynamics to convert radar-retrieved quantities into physical processes including raindrop breakup/coalescence and evaporation. Dr. Williams also develops innovative radar systems and signal processing techniques needed to answer new research questions.