NASA‐relevant Research Focus Areas
Program 1: Asteroid and meteorite research group
Asteroid research in North Dakota has grown substantially since 2003 and has received more than $750,000 in NASA funding. This effort will grow this developing area by building collaborations and research projects with faculty and students from multiple colleges and universities and expand specific asteroid research capabilities, which currently focus on near‐infrared spectral observations of near‐Earth and main‐belt asteroids.
Program 2: Solar physics/space weather research group
In collaboration with the North Dakota NASA EPSCoR program, this effort will develop a new, multi‐institution research group in solar physics in North Dakota. Solar physics research is new in the state, but beginning efforts have already led to $50,000 in funding and the beginning of two research projects that will lead to three M.S. theses. Nationally, solar physics expertise at universities and colleges is lacking and this effort will address both the national need to bolster academic solar physics capabilities and offer a new education and research area in North Dakota.
Program 3: Mars research group
Academic research on Mars in North Dakota has occurred at a low level, primarily at North Dakota State University, despite Mars being a central focus for planetary science research since the late 1990s. This effort will develop a multi‐institution, multi‐faculty research cluster that will develop specific areas of research expertise that are applicable to the study of Mars.
Space Suit Research
NDX-2 planetary space suit development. Planetary space suit research in North Dakota has been nurtured since 2004 and has already led to highly successful multi-institution research programs, such as the NDX-1 Mars planetary space suit. Continuation of this research has been bolstered in FY 2009 by $741,000 in funding for a three-year grant from the NASA EPSCoR CAN program to develop a lunar inflatable habit, pressurized rover, suit port assembly, and space suit. The Consortium will value-add this NASA funding, as necessary, and work to ensure its continuing development and expansion. http://human.space.edu.
Earth sciences research is of fundamental importance to many North Dakota industries, including agriculture, ranching, and land-use. NASA-funded Earth sciences research is occurring in North Dakota, but this effort will work to expand this activity by matching faculty from multiple institutions and learning from the expertise of faculty currently conducting Earth sciences research.
Materials science is a broad research area that has many NASA applications. Currently, active NASA-related materials science research is occurring at North Dakota State University (NDSU). The Consortium will pursue efforts to assist and expand the research occurring at NDSU while also searching for faculty around the state who wish to partner with NDSU and to expand similar or complementary research areas.
Program 1. CubeSat design, development, launch, and operation.
Despite involvement in NASA scientific research in North Dakota, no lasting effort has been made to develop a space engineering expertise within the state, which would be complementary to the ongoing space science research. In addition, space engineering offers the ability to develop a new manufacturing sector in North Dakota and to involve students and faculty in hands-on engineering and research. CubeSats, which are small satellites, offer an ideal way to begin developing an in-state space engineering expertise. Many universities have CubeSat programs underway and both NASA and the National Science Foundation are showing increasing interest in the use of CubeSats for research. http://www.cubesat.org.
Program 2. Other small satellite programs.
Support efforts to develop small satellites through other programmatic opportunities that include the University Nano-satellite Program, EyasSat, and others. http://www.eyassat.com/ and http://www.vs.afrl.af.mil/UNP/.