NASA awards $9,000,000 to the William B. Hanson Center for Space Science of The University of Texas at Dallas

The William B. Hanson Center for Space Science of The University of Texas at Dallas has been awarded $9,000,000 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for a five-year investigation of the influence of the Earth’s outer atmosphere on space-borne communication and navigation systems.

Research in Space Science has been a hallmark of The University of Texas at Dallas since its creation as the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies in 1964. UTD’s William B. Hanson Center for Space Science, continuing this distinguished tradition under Director Roderick Heelis, Professor of Physics, has just been awarded $9,00,000 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for a five-year research project entitled “Coupled Ion-Neutral Dynamics Investigation, or “CINDI”.

Commenting on this new award, Dr. Heelis stated, “As our society increasingly depends on space-borne communication and navigation systems for functioning of our economic, national defense and social systems, it is vitally important to understand how the space environment affects the performance of these systems. Improving this understanding is the goal of this research that we will undertake with this support from NASA, in collaboration with the Air Force Communications/Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS)”

According to Dr. Paul Hertz, Explorer Program Scientist at NASA, “UTD’s CINDI project is a perfect example of the “faster-better-cheaper” missions that the Explorer Program is designed to enable. By combining the resources of NASA and the Air Force, we will produce a science mission that will significantly advance our understanding of the near-Earth space environment.   An independent panel of leading space scientists concluded that the team led by UTD scientists proposed an outstanding mission for launch in 2003”. Added Dr. Bronek Dichter, Principal Scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory, “The combination of CINDI with C/NOFS significantly expands the scope of both programs and will allow us to move toward a forecast capability for communication and navigation outages.”

“Space science research has always been an important component of our School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UTD”, said the School’s Dean, Dr. Richard Caldwell, “and we are gratified by this latest evidence of how highly our program is regarded by the nation’s other experts. We are also enthusiastic that this exciting combination of pure and applied science has major synergy with the research of our colleagues in the J. Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. and that it is so highly regarded in the nation.”.

Echoing the enthusiasm of Dean Caldwell, Dean William Osborne of the J. Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science remarked “This is a very important subject for the future of space-based navigation and communication systems. I and my colleagues in the Jonsson School look forward to continuing our collaborations with the Hanson Center’s research programs.”

“Space science has been a foundation stone of research at UTD. Thus I am especially pleased about this continuation of our long association with NASA. UTD and America’s space program have grown up together, but much exciting and socially critical science yet remains to be done. I am confident that with this major new support from NASA, UTD researchers will continue to contribute to our knowledge of Earth’s near-space environment, knowledge that is both intrinsically interesting and so important to the functioning of modern society.” concluded Hobson Wildenthal, UTD’s Executive Vice President and Provost.

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls approximately 6500 undergraduate and 4500 graduate students. UTD faculty members have a long-established tradition of scholarly achievement and extra-mural funding, and its freshman class annually stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers strong bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees through each of its six large academic units, the Schools of Arts and Humanities, Human Development, Management, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Social Sciences and The J. Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. This comprehensive breadth is complemented by an historical and authorized focus on engineering, management, and science.  

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].