UTSA-SwRI Space Physics
Graduate Program

Science Missions

James Webb Space Telescope


The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large infrared telescope that is designed to vastly improve our understanding of the Universe and its origins. JWST launched on December 25, 2021 and its four main infrared instruments are expected to make fascinating discoveries ranging from profiling exoplanet atmospheres to imaging some of the Universe’s oldest galaxies. As for our Hubble guest investigator program success, our UTSA Adjoint scientists are involved in a SwRI-led program to observe asteroid Psyche in Cycle 1 and are bound to be successful in future competitive requests for observing time to investigate both solar system and [...]

James Webb Space Telescope2023-09-07T14:54:06+00:00



Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is an ongoing NASA mission dedicated to understanding the lunar surface environment and preparing for future human lunar explorations.  Since the beginning of its science operations in September 2009, LRO has been advancing lunar science as NASA’s premier lunar mapping mission.  Some of LRO’s most notable science results include improved age dating of lunar craters/surface features, identification of young volcanic features, and observations of volatiles released from Cabeus crater during the LCROSS impact.  One of LRO’s most important science targets is the lunar South Pole, where it has identified and mapped [...]




Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites (TRACERS) Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites (TRACERS) mission will consist of two identically instrumented satellites orbiting the Earth in a sun synchronous orbit with a 10s to 120s separation at the same ~500 km altitude. This orbital configuration allows TRACERS to traverse the low-altitude cusp many times throughout its two year mission lifetime. The primary science goal of TRACERS is to “discover how spatial or temporal variations in magnetic reconnection drive cusp dynamics”. TRACERS is well suited for studying this particular problem given the tandem orbital configuration which allows TRACERS the [...]




Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) PUNCH is a NASA Small Explorer mission that will make global, 3D observations of the young solar wind, from the outermost solar atmosphere to the inner heliosphere. Images of unprecedented quality will help to close a 60-year gap in measurement and understanding of what occurs in this region of space. PUNCH is scheduled to launch after Q3 of 2023. The PUNCH mission consists of a constellation of four small satellites in Sun-synchronous, low Earth orbit that together will produce deep-field, continuous, 3D images of the solar corona as it makes a transition [...]




Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) The Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission is a follow-up mission to the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission. Much larger than its predecessor, IMAP will explore many different aspects of Heliophysics. IMAP is equipped with a suite of 10 instruments designed to chronicle fundamental science about the origin of particles populating interplanetary space, as well as how they interact with one another. Most notably, IMAP will continue the work of IBEX measuring energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) originating at the outer reaches of our solar system, providing high resolution, full-sky ENA maps to help us [...]




The Advanced Mass, Ionic, and Charge Composition Experiment (AMICCE) is an innovative concept using an electrostatic analyzer (ESA) with variable radius of curvature that increases sensitivity of a suprathermal ion instrument (Allegrini et al. 2009, Rev. Sci. Instrum.; Allegrini et al. 2016, J. Geophys. Res.). The Advanced Mass and Ionic Charge Composition Experiment (AMICCE) combines this ESA with a proven design for measuring time-of- flight (TOF) and residual energy (E) to uniquely determine elemental, isotopic, and ionic charge composition over a wide energy range. AMICCE will measure ionic charge states of heavy ions (He-Fe; 10-500 keV/q) with resolution of ∆q/q≤0.2. [...]

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