The Nonequilibrium Gas & Plasma Dynamics Laboratory (NGPDL) is directed by Professor Iain D. Boyd. NGPDL is active in the development and application of physical models and numerical methods for simulation of nonequilibrium gas flows and plasmas. Current aerospace application areas include electric propulsion (small rockets used to control spacecraft) and hypersonic aerothermodynamics (flight of spacecraft at high speeds).
Experimental and theoretical research is carried out on the development and application of electric propulsion systems, including electrothermal propulsion systems, electromagnetic propulsion systems and electrostatic propulsion systems. The centerpiece of the laboratory is a large vacuum chamber that is 9 m in length and 6 m in diameter and is the largest vacuum facility of its kind at any university in the nation. A full range of measurement, instrumentation and data acquisition equipment supports the facility.
The Michigan Exploration Laboratory (MXL) is directed by Professor James Cutler. The team develops methods to calibrate and optimize sensors and systems on small satellites for space exploration. MXL also investigates whether distributed computing across global network of small satellite users could allow satellites to deliver more data to earth. Missions include the Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX), which studies plasmas in the atmosphere that are known to disrupt satellite communication with Earth.
The Aerospace Engineering and Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science (AOSS) departments in the College of Engineering share Peach Mountain Observatory. The 90-foot radio telescope allows researchers to track satellites and spacecraft. In particular, the Michigan Exploration Laboratory uses the telescope to collect signals from the Radio Aurora Explorer satellite.
The Center for Radiative Shock Hydrodynamics (CRASH) is directed by Professor Paul Drake (AOSS) with Professor Kenneth Powell as co-PI. It advances predictive science in the nationally important area of radiation hydrodynamics (RH) via a unified, multi-prong approach. To substantially improve the ability to do predictive simulations of high-energy-density and astrophysical flows, center researchers are:
The François-Xavier Bagnoud Flight Vehicle Institute was founded in 2007 with the generous support of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Association. An integral part of the Aerospace Engineering Department, the Institute focuses on research and educational topics motivated by flight vehicles in an educational setting. These topics are broad in scope and include issues related to airplanes, helicopters, rockets, satellites and interplanetary missions. The institute also sponsors workshops, scholarly reports, visiting researchers and guest lectures, including the François-Xavier Bagnoud Lecture in Aerospace Engineering.
The Center for Space Environment Modeling (CSEM) is directed by Professor Tamas Gombosi (AOSS) with Professor Kenneth Powell as co-director. It is an interdisciplinary research organization of the College of Engineering, University of Michigan. CSEM is comprised of a tightly integrated group of faculty and students from the Department of Aerospace Engineering, the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
The Constellation University Institutes Project (CUIP) is a consortium of approximately 20 universities in the United States working through a cooperative agreement with NASA to focus on addressing key technical challenges of the NASA Constellation Program. To this end, the portfolio of CUIP is comprised of the following key technical areas, or virtual institutes (VIs):
NASA centers heavily involved in Constellation application of these technical areas are engaged in extensive technical collaboration with the university researchers through research tasks. This collaboration is integrated within the Constellation Program and occurs for Constellation Program Level II Offices, the Crew Launch Vehicle Project, the Crew Exploration Vehicle Project, the Lunar Lander Project and other Constellation Projects that are established over the course of the program. Ms. Claudia Meyer and Dr. Jeff Rybak are, respectively, NASA CUIP Manger and Deputy Manager.
There are over 50 baselined research task plans within the CUIP, of which the University of Michigan has the largest share, leading about 25% of the tasks and the budget. The Aero faculty members currently actively involved in the CUIP project include professors Carlos Cesnik, Iain Boyd and Wei Shyy.
The Michigan/Air Force Center of Excellence in Electric Propulsion (MACEEP) is directed by Professor Alec Gallimore. It fosters collaboration among participating universities to enhance the research and development of plasma propulsion systems and materials processing.
The Space Institute will coordinate space research and engineering efforts into a common framework, creating synergies between complementary efforts, enabling creative public-private partnerships in space, and mutualizing infrastructures needed for the University of Michigan to become an international leader in space research, engineering, policy, and exploration. The major thrusts of the University of Michigan Space Institute:
The associate directors from the Department of Aerospace Engineering include:
Mirko Gamba – Research Interactions: Creates networking events, space-related laboratories list upkeep, lab tour coordination, cross-dept lab coordination, cosponsoring seminars, research idea workshops.
James Cutler – External Stakeholder Interactions: Coordinates meetings with industry, government, alumni, coordinating job fair panels.