UTSA-SwRI Space Physics
Graduate Program

Research Areas

Space Flight Instrumentation


The Space Science and Engineering Division at SwRI, through new patents and innovations, is known globally for its expertise in the development and operation of plasma instruments for satellite missions, cubesats, and rocket campaigns. SwRI has been involved with numerous NASA and ESA space flight instruments and missions such as IMAGE, New Horizons, ACE, Ulysses, STEREO, TWINS, SWIFT, IBEX, MMS, Van Allen Probes, Cassini, GREECE, Juno, Rosetta, and LRO along with future missions such as Solar Probe Plus, Solar Orbiter, JUICE, BepiColumbo, CYGNSS mission, Europa Mission, and cubesat missions such as CeREs and CuSPP+. Students in the Graduate Program in Space Physics have the opportunity to both work with the data returned from satellite missions as well as the instrumentation needed to make spacecraft observations [...]

Space Flight Instrumentation2023-05-25T20:11:32+00:00

Solar & Heliospheric Physics


Solar & Heliospheric physics encompasses the study of the sun from its inner core to the hot, tenuous solar corona, and the space dominated by the sun's magnetic field, as well as phenomena racing through interplanetary space like coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and co-rotating interaction regions (CIRs). Research at SwRI to study the sun and the interplanetary medium contained within the sphere of the sun's influence (known as the heliosphere) involves several spacecraft missions, including Ulysses, Wind, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), and the Solar-Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission. SwRI also serves as the PI institution for the Interstellar Boundary Explorer [...]

Solar & Heliospheric Physics2024-01-24T19:06:47+00:00

Planetary Science


Planetary science is a multifaceted area of study that seeks to answer basic, but profoundly important, questions such as how planets form, how planets evolve over time, and why at least one planet harbors life. Research in planetary science includes understanding the beginnings of our Solar System through the formation and internal structure of the planets; understanding the various planetary environments in our Solar System and potential habitability of the planets and moons; and understanding processes of different planetary atmospheres and surfaces to better understand planetary evolution on Earth and beyond to newly found exoplanets. SwRI has been involved in [...]

Planetary Science2024-01-24T21:50:54+00:00

Magnetospheric Physics


Magnetospheric research focuses on the plasma-filled region of space dominated by the Earth's magnetic field. This region is the host for a wide variety of plasma populations including the cusp, aurora, radiation belts, ring current, and plasmasphere. Magnetospheric dynamical processes such as magnetic reconnection, storms, convection, particle acceleration, and wave-particle interactions control the flow of mass, momentum, and energy throughout the system. Magnetospheric research at SwRI includes: determining the variation of oxygen in the plasmasphere and outer magnetosphere, understanding magnetic reconnection with direct observations of ions at reconnection sites, investigating the coupling between electric fields and currents in the magnetosphere [...]

Magnetospheric Physics2024-01-24T18:58:42+00:00

Ionospheric Physics


The ionosphere of Earth is the layer of ionized atmosphere above the stratosphere that extends into space. This layer is important for dynamics that can affect the atmosphere below as well as out in the magnetosphere. Ionospheric research at SwRI focuses on both in-situ and remote sensing techniques for investigating the physics of the near-Earth plasma in the ionosphere and magnetosphere. Current research topics include: instrument development for sounding rocket and satellite payloads such as GREECE, ground-based auroral imaging and photometry, incoherent scatter radar observations from multiple sites around the world. Radar and optical observations of meteors are also used [...]

Ionospheric Physics2023-05-25T20:11:51+00:00



Astrophysical research at SwRI is focused in three primary areas: death of massive stars, exoplanets, and astrophysical instrumentation. Current research topics of interest into the death of massive stars, specifically core-collapse supernovae (SNe) and gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) include: earliest X-ray and UV manifestation of SNe shock breakouts and neutron star mergers; numerical simulations of the transition between Type llb and lb SNe; UV behavior of Type lln SNe and its implications for the ejected shell; and utilization of SNe and GRBs as cosmological probes, particularly at high redshift. Exoplanet research at SwRI focuses on tying observational, experimental, and computational work [...]

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