The variety of student research topics and projects in the UND Space Studies Graduate program is only rivaled by the variety and immensity of space itself. The unique interdisciplinary nature of the program allows students to explore all aspects of space studies while working closely with a world class and international faculty. There are many opportunities for students to both work with faculty on funded research and obtain their own funding.
NDX-2 Spacesuit, Lunar Rover and Habitat
Many students are heavily involved with this NASA funded, three year project. Students have been involved with designing, building and testing a new planetary spacesuit, rover and habitat to potentially be used in any future lunar or planetary manned missions.
Precision Agriculture: Unmanned Aerial Systems
This interdepartmental project, led by a Space Studies student, seeks to explore the potential use and implementation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into precision agriculture. The CropCam UAS is being used to obtain high resolution images that will help farmers monitor crop health through the growing season.
Sounding Rocket/High Altitude Balloon Payloads
Several sounding rocket and high altitude balloon payloads have been developed by Space Studies students and faculty. Some of these payloads have been used to test atmospheric conditions and automatic descent control.
Near-Earth and Main-Belt Asteroid Spectroscopy
UND Space Studies has supported several research projects to study the surface mineralogy of both near-Earth and main-belt asteroids. Past research projects have included an M-asteroid spectral survey, study of the Baptistina asteroid family, a survey of near-Earth asteroids, study of asteroids along the 3:1 Kirkwood gap, and pyroxene calibrations as a method of studying asteroid pyroxene surface chemistries. Observations utilizing the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i.
A recent effort has begun to develop a solar physics research expertise at UND. Current projects include study of the intrinsic rotations of sunspot and their potential associations with solar flares and a study of coronal X-ray bright points using Hinode spacecraft data. Future projects include commissioning an H-α camera/filter at the UND Observatory and new projects such as solar prominence/CME studies.
The UND Observatory primarily supports broadband photometric research projects for asteroids and variable stars, as well as stellar visible-λ spectroscopic research. Long-term, institutional efforts to obtain, define, and characterize asteroid light curves is beginning and will complement near-infrared spectroscopic studies. The other primary goal of the UND Observatory is to support remote observers in support of their individual research projects.
Satellite Communications History and Policy
Satellite communications is 100-200 billion dollar business. Previous research covered the technological and policy origins of satellite communications through 1965. The current effort (almost done) is to chronicle the history of the COMSAT Corporation that developed this industry between 1963 and the 1980s—and declined in the 1990s. The next effort will be an examination of the synergistic development of cable and television and satellite television from the 1970s to the present day. Economics, technology, policy, and markets are all examined as driving and being driven by satellites. Future efforts may look at the broader field of applications satellites.