Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Justin Kasper

Justin C. Kasper

Associate Professor

Graduate advisor
Program: Ph.D. in Space & Planetary Physics

Phone: (734) 647 3350



2003    PhD, Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1999    AB, Physics, University of Chicago


Heating, instabilities, and helium in the solar corona and solar wind.  The impact of space weather on society and our ability to generate early warnings using monitors in deep space. Nature of the water moon Europa and its interaction with Jupiter.

Personal Introduction

Justin designs sensors for spacecraft that explore extreme environments in space from the surface of the Sun to the outer edges of the solar system. He is interested in understanding the forces that lead to solar flares and the solar wind, a stream of particles heated to millions of degrees in the Sun's atmosphere, or corona. In 2007, he used measurements by the Voyager spacecraft to detect the termination shock, a massive shockwave surrounding our solar system.  He has served on advisory committees for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences. He currently leads the SWEAP Investigation, an international team of scientists and engineers building sensors that will collect samples of the Sun for the NASA Solar Probe Plus spacecraft, a mission of exploration that will make history in 2018 as the first human-made object to plunge into the solar corona.


Specializations and Research Interests

  • Principal Investigator, SWEAP Investigation, Solar Probe Plus
  • Instrument Lead, Faraday Cup, Deep Space Climate Observatory
  • Co-Investigator, FIELDS, Solar Probe Plus
  • Instrument Lead, Solar Wind Experiment Faraday Cup, Wind spacecraft
  • Project Scientist and Co-Investigator, Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation, LRO
  • PI of NASA and NSF grants to conduct investigations into the fundamental physics of solar corona and solar wind including heating, instabilities, composition, shocks, magnetic reconnection, radio emission

Honors, Awards and Accomplishments

  • 2011 Popular Science Brilliant 10
  • 2010 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
  • Innovative Spirit Award, 2010 Smithsonian Secretary’s Awards for Excellence
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Exploration, 2011, The LRO Mission Operations Team, 2011, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Team, 2010
  • Dean’s Educational and Student Advising Award, MIT School of Science, 2004
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, Triana Project, 2002

Professional Service

  • 2012-               NASA Living With a Star Targeted Research and Technology Steering Committee
  • 2009-2012       NRC Decadal Survey on Solar and Space Physics, Steering Committee and Liaison to Solar and Heliospheric Physics panel
  • 2009-2013       NASA Solar and Heliospheric Management and Operations Working Group (MOWG)
  • 2008-2009       NASA Heliophysics Division Roadmap
  • 2006                NRC Space Studies Board report on Distributed Arrays of Scientific Instruments (DASI)
  • Member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) – Space Physics and Aeronomy, American Physical Society, American Astronomical Society


Selected publications.  Follow this link for an up to date list of all publications.


  • Kasper, J. C., et al., 2013, A sensitive test for strong ion-cyclotron resonant heating in the solar wind, Phys. Rev. Lett., 110, 9, 091102, 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.091102.
  • Kasper, J. C., et al., 2012, Astrophys. J., 745, 2, 162, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/745/2/162, Evolution of the Relationships between Helium Abundance, Minor Ion Charge State, and Solar Wind Speed over the Solar Cycle (ADS).
  • Kasper, J. C., Lazarus, A. J., and Gary, S. P. 2008, Physical Review Letters,doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.261103, Hot Solar-Wind Helium: Direct Evidence for Local Heating by Alfvén-Cyclotron Dissipation (pdfADS)
  • Kasper, J. C., Stevens, M. L., Lazarus, A. J., Steinberg, J. T., and Ogilvie, K. W., 2007, Astrophysical Journal, Solar Wind Helium Abundance as a Function of Speed and Heliographic Latitude: Variation through a Solar Cycle (pdfADS)
  • Kasper, J. C., Lazarus, A. J., Steinberg, J. T., Ogilvie, K. W., and Szabo, A. 2006,Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), Physics-based tests to identify the accuracy of solar wind ion measurements: A case study with the Wind Faraday Cups (pdfADS)
  • Kasper, Justin C., Lazarus, Alan J., and Gary, S. Peter, 2002, Geophysical Research Letters, Wind/SWE observations of firehose constraint on solar wind proton temperature anisotropy (pdfADS)
Updated: 2016-03-21