Space & Planetary Sciences


The term “aeronomy,” coined and introduced about 60 years ago, refers to the scientific study of the upper atmospheric regions of the Earth and other solar system bodies. It covers the chemistry, dynamics and energy balance of both neutral and charged particles. Thus, it requires a thorough knowledge of the basic concepts of the physics and chemistry of low density gases and plasmas. It also addresses the relevant coupling processes from above (magnetosphere) and below (mesosphere) this region of interest. Another way of thinking about aeronomy is that it is the study of the “transition region” between the lower atmosphere and space. Learn More

High Energy Density Physics / Laboratory Astrophysics

CLaSP faculty members do experiments that produce high energy density conditions and who model such systems using complex computer codes. Simply put, CLaSP scientists use big lasers and big computers to explore how stars explode. Learn More

Thermosphere, Ionosphere & Magnetosphere

Our studies include experimental, data analysis and numerical studies of ionospheric outflow and solar wind entry, magnetic storm and substorm physics, ring current and radiation belt dynamics, auroral physics, heating of the ionosphere and thermosphere, and the influence of the magnetospheric energetic particles on the middle atmosphere. Learn More

Planetary Atmospheres & Magnetospheres

We use in situ space measurements and models to characterize the structure and dynamics of the atmospheric environments of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and various moons and comets in the solar system. Similar tools are used to compare and contrast the different magnetospheres and their responses to the solar wind driving. Learn More

Sun, Solar Wind & Heliosphere

We study the solar and heliospheric magnetic field, processes in the solar atmosphere, the heating and acceleration of the solar wind, acceleration of energetic particles in the Sun and solar wind, coronal mass ejections and their interaction with planetary space environments, as well as the interaction of the heliosphere with the local interstellar environment. Learn More

Space Weather

We develop high-performance, first-principles-based computational models to describe and predict hazardous conditions in the near-Earth space environment extending from the Sun to the ionosphere. The models run faster than real time on mid-size parallel computers; an operative version is at use at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.Learn More