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Recent Highlights

Latest CubeSat project strengthens partnership with aerospace industry

Latest CubeSat project strengthens partnership with aerospace industry

June 25, 2014

A NASA-funded miniature satellite built by University of Colorado Boulder students to scrutinize solar flares erupting from the sun’s surface is the latest example of the university’s commitment to advancing aerospace technology and space science through strong partnerships with industry and government.

The $1 million Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS), led by CU-Boulder faculty in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, recently was selected by NASA for launch in January 2015 from the International Space Station.

Kepler receives two-year extension for K2 mission

Kepler receives two-year extension for K2 mission

May 16, 2014

Based on a recommendation from NASA’s 2014 Senior Review of its operating missions, the planet hunting Kepler space telescope has received a two-year extension to operate in a new two-wheel mode.

The approval allows the K2 mission to continue exoplanet discovery using two of its four original reaction wheels, and introduces new scientific observation opportunities to observe notable star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies and supernovae.

LASP instrument aboard NASA lunar mission set to impact moon

LASP instrument aboard NASA lunar mission set to impact moon

April 3, 2014

At the conclusion of a highly successful 130-day mission, the NASA Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is planned to impact the surface of the moon on April 21, 2014. LADEE carries the Lunar Dust Experiment (LDEX), which is the latest in a series of dust detectors designed and built at LASP.


2013

Get involved: MAVEN blast-off to Mars!

November 14, 2013

MAVEN is set to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket Nov. 18. The two-hour launch window extends from 1:28 to 3:28 p.m. EST. Liftoff will occur from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.

Launch commentary coverage, as well as prelaunch media briefings, will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The following is a list of MAVEN launch-related briefings, events, and activities.

LASP selected as member for new NASA institute

November 5, 2013

A LASP proposal has been selected by NASA’s new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).

LASP’s proposal outlines the creation of the  Institute for Modeling Plasma, Atmospheres, and Cosmic Dust (IMPACT). IMPACT focuses on experimental and theoretical investigations of: the effects of high-speed dust impacts, plasma charging, mobilization and transport of dust due to human and/or robotic activities, as well as natural processes; and the near-surface plasma environment of airless bodies in the solar system, including our Moon, Near Earth Objects, and the moons of Mars Phobos and Deimos.

LASP Public Lecture kicks off year of celebration

October 10, 2013

LASP kicks off a special year-long Public Lecture series to honor our 65th anniversary on October 11, 2013.  Please join us! Speaker: Dr. Sam Durrance Date: Friday, October 11, 2013 Time: 6:00 PM; doors open for a reception at 5:15 PM Location: LSTB-A200 (map) Abstract: Riding a rocket into space, the exhilaration of zero-g, the […]

LASP balloon launches with first-of-its-kind test instrument

October 1, 2013

On Sept. 29, 2013, a scientific balloon launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, NM, flying an instrument that scientists hope will eventually establish a new long-term benchmark data set pertaining to climate change on the Earth.

The instrument, funded by a $4.7 million NASA Earth Science Technology Office Instrument Incubator Program contract, is intended to acquire extremely accurate radiometric measurements of Earth relative to the incident sunlight. Over time, such measurements can tell scientists about changes in land-use, vegetation, urban landscape use, and atmospheric conditions on our planet. Such long-term radiometric measurements from the HyperSpectral Imager for Climate Science (HySICS) instrument can then help scientists identify the drivers of climate change.

LASP’s Toon to deliver Distinguished Research Lecture: Dead Dinosaurs & Nuclear Wars

September 27, 2013

Professor Brian Toon of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics has been selected to present the 2013 CU-Boulder Distinguished Research Lecture, an award that is among the highest honors bestowed by the faculty upon a faculty member at CU-Boulder. Each year, the Office of the Vice […]

Over the Moon: LASP instrument launches Sept. 6

August 29, 2013

A $6 million instrument designed and built by LASP to study the behavior of lunar dust will be riding on a NASA mission to the moon now slated for launch on Friday, Sept. 6, from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The mission, known as the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, […]

MAVEN haiku selected for travel to Mars

August 8, 2013

Haiku recognized in the LASP-led MAVEN message-to-Mars contest were announced today on the Going to Mars campaign website. Haiku authors from around the world—including Palestine, India, Australia, and Europe—entered the contest. The top five winners—all those whose haiku received 1,000 votes or more—include popular British blogger Benedict Smith and well-known American poet Vanna Bonta. Other entries receiving special recognition include MAVEN team selections in categories ranging from haiku specifically about MAVEN to humorous haiku.

MAVEN arrives in Florida for launch preparations

August 5, 2013

The LASP-led Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for launch this November. The spacecraft was shipped from Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colo., to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Friday.

LASP instrument reveals a particle accelerator in near-Earth space

July 25, 2013

LASP director and research scientist Dan Baker is co-author of new research that indicates that a massive particle accelerator exists in the Van Allen radiation belts, a harsh band of super-energetic, charged particles surrounding our planet. The results were published in Science magazine today.

Public voting opens on MAVEN haiku contest

July 14, 2013

The LASP-led MAVEN Going to Mars campaign has opened public voting on submissions to the message to Mars contest. Messages are in the form of three-line poems called haiku. The public will select the top three haiku via open voting on an online interface. Winning haiku will be announced on the MAVEN website on August […]

Study shows how early Earth could support life

July 12, 2013

A new study by LASP research scientist Brian Toon and doctoral student Eric Wolf indicates that explaining Earth’s early conditions, which were warm enough to support life despite a 20-percent dimmer Sun, may be simpler than believed. The study,  published in the July issue of Astrobiology, indicates that the Archean eon, 2.8 billion years ago, […]

MAVEN Student Art Contest Winner Announced

May 20, 2013

The winner of the LASP-run MAVEN student art contest turns out be the work of more than a single young person. The First Place entry, selected by online public vote, was the work of a Colorado-based Kindergarten Enrichment class.

LASP-built space weather instrument ready for delivery

May 2, 2013

A multimillion dollar LASP instrument package to study space weather has passed its pre-installation testing and is ready to be incorporated onto a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite for a 2015 launch.

Send Your Name and Message to Mars with MAVEN

May 1, 2013

The MAVEN mission is inviting people from all over the world to submit their names and a unique message online. Participants’ names and the top-voted messages will be burned to a specially-designed DVD and sent to the Red Planet aboard the MAVEN spacecraft, scheduled to launch in November, 2013.

Kepler spacecraft discovers smallest “habitable zone” planets to date

April 18, 2013

The LASP-operated NASA Kepler spacecraft has discovered two planetary systems that include three super-Earth-sized planets in the “habitable zone,” where the surface temperature of a planet may sustain liquid water.

PRESS RELEASE: LASP will partner on NASA mission to study Earth’s upper atmosphere

April 12, 2013

NASA has announced that LASP will collaborate on a $55 million project to build and launch an instrument to provide unprecedented imaging of the Earth’s upper atmosphere from a geostationary orbit.

The kind of information the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission will collect will have a direct impact on man’s understanding of space weather and its impact on communication and navigation satellites.

LASP at National Space Symposium (NSS) April 9-12

April 8, 2013

LASP is participating in the National Space Symposium, this week, as part of our effort to reach out to space industry audiences attending this important annual conference. Visitors can find us at Exhibit Booth #506, which we are sharing with the University of Colorado Boulder Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences (AES). We are leaders in […]

Get Going to Mars!

March 14, 2013

Members of the worldwide public are invited to participate in NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission through a new Education & Public Outreach (E/PO) effort called the Going to Mars campaign. MAVEN, which is the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere, has a robust E/PO program designed to engage a variety of audiences in the mission.

LASP instrument discovers a third radiation belt around Earth

February 27, 2013

The Van Allen Probes mission has revealed a third radiation belt encircling Earth, dispelling a long-held theory that only two of these hazardous charged particle layers exist in Earth’s magnetic field. This discovery is based on data collected from the LASP-built Relativistic Electron-Proton Telescope (REPT) experiment, published today in the journal Science online, at the Science Express website.

Ready to rattle: MAVEN spacecraft begins environmental testing

February 8, 2013

The LASP-led Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission spacecraft is now fully assembled and ready to begin its environmental testing phase. For the next six months, the spacecraft will undergo numerous, intensive tests that simulate the harsh space environments that it will encounter once it launches this November.

Sun-studying satellite celebrates a successful decade

January 22, 2013

The Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) has seen a lot for a ten-year-old. Launched into Earth’s orbit on January 25, 2003, SORCE’s four LASP-built instruments have spent the past decade measuring solar energy in Earth’s atmosphere to help understand how the Sun affects climate change. SORCE has observed a gamut of solar events during […]

LASP scientist receives prestigious solar research medal

January 7, 2013

LASP physicist Dr. John “Jack” Gosling has received the U.S. National Academy of Sciences 2013 Arctowski Medal for his outstanding contributions to the field of solar physics. Gosling has received the award for his extensive research on energetic solar events and their effects on Earth. He will be formally honored at a ceremony on Sunday, […]


2012

LASP-operated spacecraft discovers rare four-star planet

October 18, 2012

With key help from citizen scientists, the LASP-operated NASA Kepler spacecraft has discovered a unique planet orbiting a double-star system; the system is, in turn, orbited by two additional stars. Amateur astronomers and scientists aided the discovery through the Yale University Planet Hunters citizen-science program. The newly discovered planet, PH1, is the first reported case […]

LASP community celebration focuses in on the Moon

September 24, 2012

Members of the Boulder community joined LASP scientists, staff, and students under the glow of a First Quarter Moon on Saturday evening for the 2012 International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) celebration. Sponsored by the LASP Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS), the event was an opportunity for the community to view […]

PRESS RELEASE: LASP-led NASA Mars mission enters final phase before launch

September 11, 2012

NASA has authorized the next Mars mission, led by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder), to proceed to system delivery, spacecraft integration, testing, and launch, which is slated for November 2013. The $670 million Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission will be the first devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The goal of MAVEN is to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time.

LASP director leads 10-year plan for solar research

August 29, 2012

A new survey, led by LASP Director Daniel Baker, brings the next decade of solar and space physics closer to home. The National Research Council (NRC) 10-year plan recommends that heliophysics research focus on the near-Earth environment in order to better understand how the Sun and space weather impact phenomena on Earth. Baker chaired the […]

PRESS RELEASE: LASP instrumentation to explore harsh near-Earth space environment

August 20, 2012

Launch update: After a few postponements, RBSP launched successfully at 4:05 a.m. EDT on Thursday, August 30. On August 24, the NASA Radiation Belt and Storm Probes (RBSP) mission will launch into orbit to study the forbidding belts of radiation that encircle Earth, which are trapped here by our planet’s magnetic field. Dual spacecraft will […]

LASP director recognized as AGU distinguished lecturer

August 13, 2012

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has invited LASP Director Daniel Baker to deliver a Bowie lecture at its 2012 Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California, this December. Designation as a Bowie lecturer is the highest honor in each of the AGU scientific sections. Baker will deliver the Van Allen lecture in the Space Physics and […]

Mars rover pajama party brings a curious crowd to LASP

August 6, 2012

An estimated 350 people gathered at LASP Sunday night for activities surrounding the landing of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover on Mars. The late-night public event brought local citizens, LASP staff, and space industry experts together to witness and celebrate Curiosity’s dramatic landing on the surface of the Red Planet. A number […]

PRESS RELEASE: Tiny student-built satellite launches to study violent solar activity

August 1, 2012

UPDATE: After some range issues and weather setbacks, CSSWE launched successfully on Thursday, September 13, at 3:39 p.m. MT. It was deployed three hours later, and made its first pass over the LASP ground station at approximately 4:14 a.m. MT on Friday, September 14, when the first beacons were received. A CubeSat mission designed, built, […]

Space science stars align at LASP New Media workshop

July 25, 2012

A group of New Media communicators gathered at LASP this past weekend to discuss the most up-to-date issues surrounding lunar and small bodies science and exploration with experts in the field. Sponsored by the LASP Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS), the weekend-long workshop offered professional development for bloggers, podcasters, and other […]

PRESS RELEASE: Solar instrument bridges gap left by Glory’s demise

July 18, 2012

An instrument to monitor solar energy, built by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, will be launched into orbit in 2013 to help determine the effects of solar radiation on Earth’s climate. This Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) will mitigate a potential and likely upcoming gap in an […]

LASP to operate private mission to map hazardous asteroids

June 28, 2012

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) will conduct mission operations and data processing for the first privately funded deep-space mission, whose goal will be to spot near-Earth objects that could be in a dangerous trajectory with Earth. The mission will be led by the B612 Foundation. The Sentinel mission […]

LASP sounding rocket launch planned for Saturday

June 22, 2012

LASP scientists will launch a sounding rocket this Saturday, June 23, from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, to check the performance of the EUV Variability Experiment (EVE) onboard the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The scientific rocket will carry a near-replica of the SDO EVE satellite and will calibrate the EVE optical […]

LASP director receives prestigious writing award

June 18, 2012

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) presented LASP Director Dr. Daniel Baker with the distinguished 2012 Popular Writing Award on June 12 in Anchorage, Alaska. Baker shares the honor with Dr. James Green, director of the NASA Solar System Exploration Division. To encourage solar research education, the AAS Solar Physics Division offers its annual monetary award […]

New Media communicators invited to attend professional development workshop

June 11, 2012

LASP welcomes applications for our upcoming expenses-paid professional development workshop for bloggers, podcasters, and other science communicators. Attendees may or may not be formally trained in journalism or science. The workshop will be held July 20-22 on the CU-Boulder campus near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and will feature a prestigious line-up of space […]

LASP crater catalog chronicles Mars’ mysterious past

June 11, 2012

An extensive new database details over 635,000 Martian impact craters, providing unprecedented information about Mars’ battered surface. Compiled by LASP scientists, the catalog will help researchers date various regions of the Red Planet, study its volcanic water history, and investigate its past potential to harbor life. The database details Martian impact craters, likely created by […]

LASP supports largest eclipse-viewing party on record

May 21, 2012

The mass viewing of Sunday evening’s solar eclipse at CU-Boulder broke world records, with close to 10,000 attendees filling the stands at Folsom Field. Organized by Fiske Planetarium and co-sponsored by the two NASA Lunar Institute teams from CU—the LASP Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS) and Lunar University Network for Astrophysics […]

Weighty video gives new understanding of Moon’s gravity

May 7, 2012

Forty years after the NASA Apollo 16 mission, a dusty video has given scientists fresh perspective on the surface of the Moon. Scientists with the LASP Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS) analyzed Apollo 16 video images of dust clouds kicked up by the rover to show that they followed ballistic trajectories, […]

LASP celebrates National Take Your Child to Work Day

April 26, 2012

Children of LASP staff learned about space exploration during a series of activities held at the LASP Space Technology Building this morning. The children built Mars rovers out of candy, created and decorated a spectrograph, and dressed in “bunny suits”—the outerwear that employees don to help ensure that instruments destined for space are built in […]

Local students send a bit of dessert into the atmosphere

April 17, 2012

A group of Longmont middle school students successfully sent a scientific balloon carrying edible treats into the sky last Saturday as an atmospheric physics experiment. Guided by LASP scientists and education/outreach staff, the Trail Ridge Middle School eighth grade Earth Explorers class launched a balloon platform carrying a container of Jell-O and a marshmallow into […]

Kepler mission extended through 2016

April 4, 2012

NASA has extended the Kepler mission through fiscal year 2016, adding four years to Kepler’s search for Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy and allowing LASP to continue our work operating the spacecraft. A team of 20 University of Colorado students and 16 LASP professionals control the Kepler spacecraft from the LASP Mission Operations […]

Cassini team wins top Smithsonian group honor

March 29, 2012

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum presented the 2012 Trophy for Current Achievement, its highest group award, to the NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn on March 21 in Washington, D.C. The Cassini spacecraft carries the LASP-built Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph Subsystem (UVIS), which measures ultraviolet light in Saturn’s system to better understand the planet’s atmospheres, […]

Kepler team wins top space program award

March 9, 2012

The NASA Kepler Mission won the highest honor for space programs at the 2012 Aviation Week Laureate Awards on March 7 in Washington, D.C. Students and professionals in the LASP Mission Operations Center control the Kepler spacecraft, which is surveying our region of the Milky Way galaxy for Earth-like planets. The Laureate Awards recognize individuals […]

Student-built satellite delivered to California for upcoming launch

January 23, 2012

CU-Boulder students, working under the guidance of LASP scientists and engineers, have finished building a satellite to study space weather and have sent it to California Polytechnic Institute to begin integration with launch vehicle systems. More than 50 graduate and undergraduate students have contributed to designing and building the Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE), an $840,000 CubeSat mission funded by the National Science Foundation. The satellite is scheduled to launch into low-Earth polar orbit in early August 2012 as a secondary payload under NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program.

LASP scientists elected as AGU fellows

January 23, 2012

In recognition of their accomplishments and exceptional scientific contributions, two LASP scientists have been elected as fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Bruce Jakosky and Cora Randall have been recognized by their peers for their outstanding work in Earth and space sciences with an honor that is bestowed upon not more than 0.1% of the AGU membership annually.

Students use Student Dust Counter data to improve understanding of space dust

January 9, 2012

Using data from the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto, LASP scientists have made new measurements of interplanetary dust density. The data, collected from the CU-Boulder student-built Student Dust Counter (SDC) and the meteoroid detector on the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, represent measurements of the micro-sized dust grains from the Earth out to the present position of the SDC, at approximately 20 Astronomical Units (AU). One AU is equal to the average distance from the Sun to the Earth, or approximately 93 million miles (149.5 million km).


2011

Early Earth may have been prone to deep freezes

December 13, 2011

New research led by LASP scientist Brian Toon uses a three-dimensional (3-D) model of Earth’s climate to assess the role of various factors in influencing historic global temperatures and resulting sea ice formation and change. Toon, along with doctoral student Eric Wolf, adapted the 3-D model to incorporate the complex and dynamic interactions between the atmosphere, cloud formation, energy radiation, land and ice cover, and the hydrological cycle to demonstrate how the Earth maintained a global mean temperature hospitable to life. The model attempts to solve the “faint young sun paradox” of the Archean Eon—from about 3.8 billion to 2.5 billion years ago—when the Sun was up to 30 percent less active, but geologic evidence points to a climate as warm or warmer than today.

As Voyager 1 nears edge of Solar System, CU scientists look back

December 13, 2011

In 1977, Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president, Elvis died, Virginia park ranger Roy Sullivan was hit by lightning a record seventh time and two NASA space probes destined to turn planetary science on its head launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The identical spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, were launched in the summer and programmed to pass by Jupiter and Saturn on different paths. Voyager 2 went on to visit Uranus and Neptune, completing the “Grand Tour of the Solar System,” perhaps the most exciting interplanetary mission ever flown. University of Colorado Boulder scientists, who designed and built identical instruments for Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, were as stunned as anyone when the spacecraft began sending back data to Earth.

LASP scientist successfully models Saturn dust streams

December 3, 2011

Using data from the NASA Cassini mission, a team of scientists led by LASP researcher Sean Hsu, has successfully modeled dust streams being expelled from Saturn at speeds of more than 62 miles (100 km) per second. The data, taken from the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) and the magnetometer on board Cassini, provide new information about the sources of the dust, as well as interactions within the mix of subatomic particles in which the charged dust is immersed, called dusty plasma.

LASP Director to lead AGU workshop on space weather

December 2, 2011

As part of the upcoming American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, LASP director, Dan Baker, will serve as a panelist for a workshop on space weather. The workshop, titled, “Getting Ready for Solar Max: Separating Space Weather Fact from Fiction,” will be held on Tuesday, December 6, at 10 a.m. PT. Baker will begin the workshop with an overview of our current understanding of the Sun-Earth system, including solar variability and its interaction with Earth’s magnetosphere.

LASP move eases crowding and supports collaboration

November 8, 2011

LASP Science Division personnel are moving to a new location on the CU Research Campus beginning October 14. According to LASP Director, Dan Baker, the benefits of the move are two-fold. Baker said, “LASP is a growing presence on campus. We are excited by the opportunity to expand our physical space to better address our current needs, while consolidating our science staff for more fluid collaboration.”

LASP researcher leads study on migration of Mars volcanic activity

November 1, 2011

LASP scientist and CU-Boulder Department of Geological Sciences Assistant Professor, Brian Hynek, led a recent study detailing the earliest history of the development of the Tharsis volcanoes on Mars. The Tharsis region, one of the most prominent features on Mars, covers one quarter of the planet, rises 10 km above the surrounding flatlands, and has had near-continuous volcanic activity for roughly 4 billion years.

LASP scientist receives Humboldt Research Award

October 31, 2011

In recognition of his accomplishments and groundbreaking insights in the field of atmospheric science, LASP scientist and CU-Boulder Professor Peter Pilewskie has been named a recipient of the prestigious Humboldt Research Award. Pilewskie has been at LASP since 2004, where he performs research on the effects of clouds and aerosols on solar energy in the Earth’s atmosphere. He is also a professor in the Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and serves as the director of the collaborative LASP/NASA Goddard Sun-Climate Research Center.

PRESS RELEASE: CU-Boulder selected to host National Solar Observatory headquarters

September 30, 2011

CU-Boulder has announced its selection as the upcoming host for the National Solar Observatory headquarters. A team led by Russell Moore, CU-Boulder Provost, and including LASP researchers, submitted the bid to serve as the NSO’s new headquarters location.

PRESS RELEASE: MAVEN Mission Primary Structure Complete

September 26, 2011

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission has achieved another significant milestone on its way towards launch in November 2013. Lockheed Martin has completed building the primary structure of the MAVEN spacecraft at its Space Systems Company facility near Denver.

UARS satellite carrying LASP-built instrument set for re-entry

September 22, 2011

NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), launched in September 1991 and deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-48), is re-entering Earth’s atmosphere and will complete its decent on Friday, September 23. LASP designed and built the Solar Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment (SOLSTICE) on board UARS and operated the instrument after launch. Throughout 14 years of successful operations, SOLSTICE made precise measurements of the Sun’s ultraviolet and far ultraviolet spectral irradiance.

LASP celebrates 15 years of continuous spacecraft operations

September 15, 2011

September 2011 marks a significant milestone for LASP, as our Mission Operations and Data Systems (MODS) team celebrates 15 years of continuous spacecraft operations. From long-standing science missions, such as ICESat, which have brought in important data over years—to newer missions, such as Kepler’s exciting search for Earth-like planets—LASP MODS has offered reliable spacecraft operations to agencies including NASA.

LASP scientists, instrument responsible for new solar flare discovery

September 9, 2011

The Sun is the dominant source of energy for Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists are interested in determining how the Sun’s output affects Earth’s climate and the ways specific events can disrupt space weather applications, space-based technologies, and radio communications. New observations of solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) irradiance from the LASP-designed and built EUV Variability Experiment (EVE) on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) are adding another piece to this complicated puzzle that may help scientists more accurately predict space weather events.

LASP scientist awarded American Geophysical Union Revelle Medal

August 8, 2011

In recognition of his innovative work on the effects of aerosols on clouds and climate, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has awarded LASP scientist Brian Toon the 2011 Revelle Medal. Toon has been at LASP since 1997, where his research is focused on radiative transfer, cloud physics, and atmospheric chemistry as well as the search for parallels between the Earth and the terrestrial planets.

LASP scientists instrumental in mission to Jupiter

August 3, 2011

Several LASP scientists are involved in NASA’s upcoming Juno mission to Jupiter. Scheduled to launch on August 5, 2011, the mission will improve understanding of our solar system origins by revealing details about the formation and evolution of the gas giant. The spacecraft will embark on a five-year, 400-million-mile voyage to Jupiter, where it will orbit the planet 33 times, collecting data for more than one Earth year.

PRESS RELEASE: LASP-led mission to Mars achieves major milestone

July 22, 2011

The CU/LASP-led mission to Mars, devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere, reached a major milestone last week when it successfully completed its Mission Critical Design Review (CDR) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. An independent review board, comprised of reviewers from NASA and several external organizations, met from July 11-15 to validate the system design of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission.

Study finds strong evidence for salt-water ocean on Saturn moon

June 23, 2011

A study published in the journal Nature and co-authored by LASP scientist Sascha Kempf indicates that samples of water vapor and ice particles coming from Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus demonstrate evidence for a large, subterranean salt-water reservoir. The Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) on board the NASA Cassini spacecraft measured the composition of plumes—emanating from fractures called tiger stripes—and found that ice grains close to the moon are salt rich, unlike those that make up the planet’s E Ring.

CU-Boulder students build NSF satellite to study space weather

May 24, 2011

LASP/CU-Boulder students are designing and building a satellite that will study space weather—changes in near-Earth space conditions that adversely affect Earth-orbiting spacecraft and communication technologies. The Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE) is an $840,000 CubeSat mission funded by the National Science Foundation. CSSWE is scheduled to launch into low-Earth polar orbit in June 2012 as a secondary payload under NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program.

New video features Student Dust Counter and team members

May 9, 2011

A new video that introduces the unique story of LASP student involvement in a NASA satellite instrument is now available. The video features students involved in the design, production, and operation of the Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (SDC), an instrument aboard the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto. Under the supervision of professional education staff, LASP undergraduate student Alex Thom compiled the video from archived mission footage and interviews.

PRESS RELEASE: CU-Boulder one of two finalists for National Solar Observatory

April 26, 2011

CU-Boulder has announced its selection as a finalist to host the National Solar Observatory headquarters. A team led by Russell Moore, CU-Boulder Provost, and including LASP researchers submitted the bid to serve as the NSO’s new headquarters location. The NSO’s mission is to advance knowledge of the sun both as an astronomical object and as […]

Low solar energy not solely behind Little Ice Age

April 13, 2011

A study published in Geophysical Research Letters and co-authored by LASP scientist Tom Woods has found that total solar irradiance (TSI)—a measure of the Sun’s energy output—may not be as low during the Little Ice Age as previously understood. Low total solar irradiance has been thought to be a cause of the Little Ice Age, a time in the 17th Century coinciding with a period of unusually low sunspot activity known as the Maunder Minimum.

PRESS RELEASE: LASP one of several CO labs that together inject jobs and $1.5B into state economy

March 31, 2011

Federally funded laboratories in Colorado, a group that includes LASP, contributed $1.5 billion to the state economy in fiscal year 2010 and accounted for more than 16,000 direct and indirect jobs, a new survey shows. The study, Impact of Federal Research Laboratories in Colorado, 2009-2010, was done at the behest of CO‐LABS, a consortium of […]

MESSENGER mission enters orbit around Mercury

March 18, 2011

At approximately 7 p.m. MT on Thursday, March 17, after more than six and a half years and a nearly 5 billion mile journey, NASA’s MESSENGER mission became the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around the planet Mercury.

LASP launches calibration rocket for SDO EVE

March 18, 2011

On March 23, 2011, LASP launched a sounding rocket intended to calibrate the Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) on the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The rocket carries an almost exact replica instrument as the satellite version SDO EVE instrument, which will help to determine any long-term degradation of the EVE optical system and will enable EVE to obtain the most accurate measurements possible of solar irradiance.

Glory satellite, carrying LASP-built instrument, fails to reach orbit

March 4, 2011

NASA’s Glory mission failed to reach orbit due to a failure of the Taurus XL rocket’s fairing to separate. The Glory satellite was designed to help scientists determine how much energy from the sun reaches Earth and how solar variability influences Earth’s long-term climate. Designed and built at LASP, the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) instrument on board, was aimed at measuring the intensity of solar radiation at the top of Earth’s atmosphere.X Earth’s Climate X Glory

LASP scientist awarded Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal

February 3, 2011

LASP scientist Eberhard Grün has been awarded the 2011 Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) Gold Medal for Geophysics.

Countdown to Glory launch underway

January 26, 2011

At Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, engineers are preparing the next Earth-observing NASA mission, Glory, which is slated to launch in late February. Glory carries the LASP-built Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) instrument, which will be directed towards the sun and will measure the intensity of solar radiation that enters the Earth’s atmosphere.

LASP student recognized for contributions to New Horizons mission

January 19, 2011

LASP graduate student Andrew Poppe was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the Student Dust Counter instrument on board the New Horizons mission to Pluto.

PRESS RELEASE: Improved measurements of sun to advance understanding of climate change

January 14, 2011

New research led by CU-Boulder/LASP scientist Greg Kopp will advance scientists’ understanding of the contribution of natural versus anthropogenic causes of climate change. The research improves the accuracy of the continuous, 32-year record of the sun’s energy output, which scientists call total solar irradiance (TSI). Energy from the sun is the primary energy input driving […]

Students Encouraged to apply for Research Experiences for Undergraduates; application due Jan 28

January 7, 2011

Sophomore and junior undergraduate students are invited to apply for the LASP NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Applications are due January 28, 2011. Foreign students may apply. Students will work with scientists at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) or at the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s (NCAR) […]


2010

LASP Director co-chairs report: single-agency Earth and space missions less risky

November 29, 2010

A new National Research Council report, co-chaired by Daniel Baker of CU/LASP and D. James Baker of the William J. Clinton Foundation, concludes that cooperation among federal agencies on space programs leads to costlier programs with greater risk and complexity. Daniel Baker said, “In many cases, an individual agency would do well to consider alternatives […]

PRESS RELEASE: Collaborative LASP/Goddard Sun-Climate Research Center Announced

November 29, 2010

The University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center announced the formation of a new collaborative research center dedicated to the study of the Sun’s effect on Earth’s climate. The center, called the Sun-Climate Research Center (SCRC), will be directed by Peter Pilewskie, a LASP research scientist […]

Study reveals likelihood of ice caves on Mars

October 25, 2010

A recent study co-authored by LASP researcher Brian Toon used models to predict which regions on Mars could have ice caves. Ice caves are sometimes found on Earth in lava tubes left over from previous volcanic activity; on Mars, these ice caves could allow ice to exist in middle latitudes, where many lava tubes have […]

Student-built space-science instrument breaks distance record; new results published

October 11, 2010

The Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (SDC), a CU/LASP-built instrument aboard the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto, just became the record-holder for the most distant functioning space dust detector ever in space. On October 10, the SDC surpassed the previous record when it flew beyond 18 astronomical units—one unit is the distance between the […]

PRESS RELEASE: NASA gives LASP-led Mars mission green light

October 5, 2010

NASA announced today that the CU/LASP-led mission to Mars to investigate how the planet lost much of its atmosphere eons ago has been approved by the space agency to move into the development stage.

LASP researchers launch balloons to study ozone over Antarctica

September 30, 2010

LASP atmospheric researchers Linnea Avallone and Lars Kalnajs are currently at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, where they are participating in the Concordiasi campaign, a French-led project to study the Antarctic “ozone hole” using instrumentation on long-duration, super-pressure balloons.

PRESS RELEASE: LASP awarded $6.7 million to design instruments for NASA mission to sun

September 15, 2010

A team of experts from LASP at CU-Boulder has been awarded $6.7 million from NASA to design, develop, and test instruments for the fastest space probe ever built. The probe will orbit 22 times closer to the sun than Earth, and well inside the orbit of Mercury, to better understand how the sun ticks. Robert […]

PRESS RELEASE: Students see ICESat satellite through the end of its life

August 30, 2010

University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) professionals and students have completed their role operating the NASA ICESat mission, one of five missions operated at LASP.  ICESat reached the end of its productive seven-year life in June, when NASA began decommissioning the satellite because of instrument failure. The remaining […]

NASA’s Kepler mission discovers two planets transiting the same star

August 27, 2010

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star.

The transit signatures of two distinct planets were seen in the data for the sun-like star designated Kepler-9. The planets were named Kepler-9b and 9c. The discovery incorporates seven months of observations of more than 156,000 stars as part of an ongoing search for Earth-sized planets outside our solar system. The findings will be published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science.

PRESS RELEASE: Shrinking atmospheric layer linked to low levels of solar radiation

August 26, 2010

LASP scientist and CU professor Tom Woods contributed to a study indicating that large changes in the sun’s energy output may drive unexpectedly dramatic fluctuations in Earth’s outer atmosphere. The study, published today in Geophysical Research Letters, links a recent, temporary shrinking of a high atmospheric layer with a sharp drop in the sun’s ultraviolet […]

AIM a success according to 2010 NASA Senior Review

August 24, 2010

The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) mission, which studies polar mesospheric clouds(PMCs) and the atmosphere, was recently evaluated in the 2010 Senior Review of the NASA Heliophysics Mission Operations and Data Analysis program.  The AIM mission received an  “excellent” rating in both of the two categories evaluated—scientific merit and contribution to heliophysics goals. […]

Final MESSENGER fly-by past Mercury reveals trove of data

August 24, 2010

Analysis of data from the third and final fly-by of the MESSENGER spacecraft in September 2009 has revealed a treasure trove of new information on the solar system’s innermost planet. MESSENGER is on its way to Mercury, where it will settle into orbit in March 2011 and help scientists answer crucial questions about Mercury’s geology, density, structure, and magnetic field. Three fly-bys of the planet, spaced over twenty months, have been necessary to guide the spacecraft into its upcoming orbit around Mercury beginning in March 2011.

Undergraduates wrap up summer research as part of annual program

August 23, 2010

The NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at CU-LASP came to an end on August 6th. Each year, the eight-week program brings students from all over the country to complete a summer-long research project working directly with scientists. This year, 16 students spent 8 weeks at either LASP, NCAR/HAO, NOAA/SWPC, or SwRI conducting research, […]

LASP scientist publishes astronomy textbook

August 22, 2010

CU professor and LASP scientist Nick Schneider, together with three colleagues, have recently published the sixth edition of The Cosmic Perspective, a textbook used in introductory astronomy courses. The book covers a comprehensive survey of modern astronomy, from the universality of physics to our solar system and beyond.  The book is used at CU and […]

Moon formation around Jupiter and Saturn

August 3, 2010

LASP scientist Glen Stewart recently co-authored a study published in The Astrophysical Journal concerning the formation of large moons around Jupiter and Saturn. The study shows that the differences between the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn—Jupiter has four large moons while Saturn has only one large moon and many small icy moons—informs how the moons were formed.

Polar mesospheric cloud season underway

July 30, 2010

According to Cora Randall, CU professor and LASP research associate, the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) Cloud Imaging and Particle Size (CIPS) instrument saw this season’s first polar mesospheric clouds on May 28. Polar mesospheric clouds, also called noctilucent or “night shining” clouds, form at about 50 miles above Earth’s surface and can be seen when they reflect light after sunset. The Northern Hemisphere cloud season generally begins in late May and lasts until late August; in the Southern Hemisphere, the season goes from late November to late February.

LASP director explores value of GPS

July 26, 2010

In an op-ed published in The New York Times on May 27th, LASP Director Dan Baker explored the value of Global Positioning System (GPS) sensors, which are commonly used for navigation.  Developed by the military and implemented in 1973, GPS has been a significant advance in space technology.  Sensors on each satellite, the Nuclear Detonation […]

LASP study supports idea of oceans on Mars

June 17, 2010

A vast ocean likely covered one-third of the surface of Mars some 3.5 billion years ago, according to a new study conducted by LASP scientists, further supporting the idea of a sustained sea on the Red Planet.

The study, authored by Gaetano Di Achille and Brian Hynek, is the first to combine the analysis of water-related features, including scores of delta deposits and thousands of river valleys to test for the occurrence of an ocean sustained by a global hydrosphere on early Mars.

LASP’s EVE launches aboard calibration rocket

June 4, 2010

A LASP-built instrument launched aboard a sounding rocket on May 3 with the goal of providing calibration data for a twin instrument already in flight aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The “rocket-based” Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment, or EVE, was launched from the Air Force’s White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, New Mex.

Our new look: LASP web redesign

May 12, 2010

If you are a frequent visitor to the LASP website, you will notice that things have changed. LASP is currently updating its more than 300 web pages across the site, beginning with a new home page and top-level pages. Updates to secondary pages will follow and still currently maintain the older look and feel. Below […]

Hubble for the Sun: SDO’s First Light

April 21, 2010

NASA recently unveiled initial images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, including images from a powerful ultraviolet instrument built at LASP. Launched on Feb. 11, SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever launched to study the sun and its dynamic behavior. The spacecraft will provide images with clarity ten times better than high definition […]

Distinguished Research Lecture April 16

April 12, 2010

On Friday, April 16th, Dr. Daniel Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), will be honored at the 2010 Distinguished Research Lecture and Reception. The event will be held on the CU-Boulder campus at 3 p.m. in room 100 of the Mathematics building and is free and open to the public. […]

LASP scientist to lead two new lunar programs

April 10, 2010

LASP scientist Mihaly Horanyi is an international leader in the study of lunar dust. Now Horanyi and his CU Boulder-based team are working to establish the Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies, which will conduct both experimental and modeling research into the nature of dust on the moon and its impact for human exploration of the moon.

Dan Baker elected to National Academy of Engineering

February 14, 2010

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced on Feb. 17, 2010, that Dr. Daniel N. Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, was elected as a new academy member. Baker was honored for his leadership in the study of, and for his development of predictive tools for, the Earth’s radiation environment. He […]

SDO EVE launch event open house

February 3, 2010

Event Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 Join Us at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) for the launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) which includes the LASP-built instrument Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE). SDO is NASA’s first satellite in the Living With a Star program. 7:30 am — Doors open 7:45 am […]

CU-Boulder director and faculty member Daniel Baker wins AIAA Leadership in Space Research award

January 13, 2010

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has awarded University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Daniel N. Baker with the prestigious James A. Van Allen Space Environments Award for excellence and leadership in space research. Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), received the award of excellence with emphasis “in […]


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2005