Space Domain Awareness

UArizona scientists monitor and study objects in Earth orbit and beyond to ensure awareness of intentional or unintentional changes in orbital trajectories.

Key activities include

  • visible wavelength spectral data
  • identification of space objects
  • telescopic and laboratory spectral characterization of space materials
  • cyberinfrastructure for big data

Recent achievements include a $7.5M award from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate for cislunar object tracking and identification and a contract for a University center to support the AFRL SVD and US Space Force requirements in cislunar space.

In addition, UArizona’s Space Domain Awareness Lab provided convincing evidence that the presumed SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster that hit the moon in March 2022 was a Chinese booster from a rocket launch eight years prior. The lab’s observations made it possible for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to pinpoint, image, and verify the booster’s impact on the moon. See article. 

In fall 2022, the university launched the Space4 Center to consolidate the potential of researchers with demonstrated expertise in science and engineering. Space4 empowers collaborators to achieve their missions by developing cyber tools and resources for responsible use of the Earth-Moon system and exploration of cislunar space.

Space4 offers expertise in:

  • Discovery, Tracking & Characterization
  • Astrodynamics, Machine Learning & Data Visualization
  • Workforce Development