Penn State’s diverse portfolio of NASA funded research projects continues to grow. Strong research programs are presently ongoing in Astrobiology, Propulsion, Climate Evolution, Rotorcraft Technologies, Human Effects of Space Flight, Novel Materials and Processing for Space Applications, and Astronomy & Astrophysics. Building upon these numerous continuing research programs and bolstered by the large expenditures associated with design and construction of the scientific instrument package for the Swift Gamma Ray Burst Orbiting Telescope, PI: Dr. John Nousek, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Penn State has climbed to number ten on the list to top NASA funded research universities for government fiscal year 2002.
Execution of the Swift Orbiting Telescope project required establishment at Penn State of supporting
infrastructure for instrument design and for fabrication of flight qualified hardware. As Penn State will host the ground based tracking and data analysis center for Swift, expertise and infrastructure for communications, satellite control, data streaming and data processing have also been developed. The experience and resources for big science projects resident within Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory have been instrumental for the success of the College of Science’s Swift project team.
A survey of NASA funded researchers from across campus revealed that many were enthusiastic about
competing for large NASA awards, but had not done so because Penn State seemed to lack the supporting project management and engineering expertise necessary to be successful in such competitions. The resident expertise developed and associated infrastructure established for Swift represent valuable investments both for Penn State and for NASA. The Center for Space Research Programs (CSRP) has been established in order to capitalize on these assets and attract new, large NASA research projects to Penn State.
The CSRP is presently supported by initial three-year investments provided by the Eberly College of Science, the College of Engineering, the Applied Research Laboratory, the College of Earth & Mineral Sciences, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, and the Office of the Provost. Faculty researchers from any college or research unit on campus are encouraged to take advantage of the added value that CSRP can provide in competitions and in subsequent execution of large NASA funded research projects.