BizTucson Summer 2022

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Space City

Led by UArizona, Tucson Reaches f JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE



By Rodney Campbell University of California-Berkeley. University of Arizona. In its recent Best Global Universities rankings, U.S. News & World Report said those are the top two American public universities in space sciences. UArizona earned the lofty ranking for its research reputation in space sciences as well as the number of citations and publications by its researchers. The magazine ranked UArizona 10th overall in the world among all universities and seventh in the nation. “It is gratifying to see the University of Arizona listed alongside many of the world’s premier academic research institutions,” UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said. “Our university is home to many breathtaking scientific innovations, and it is upon this foundation that our faculty members seek to make further extraordinary discoveries.” Tucson really is a “Space City of the Southwest,” as coined by local talk radio host Zach Yentzer, also executive director of Tucson Young Professionals. On a recent visit here, NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy called UArizona a “crown jewel” among U.S. universities doing space science research. She called the school a significant partner with a “towering reputation in astronomy, planetary science and astrophysics.” The university’s space-related ventures, which started with the Steward Observatory’s first telescope and building in 1923, have definitely accelerated over the past several years:

UArizona researchers played a leading role in producing the first images of the galaxy’s black hole, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope, an array of radio telescopes named after the boundary of the black hole beyond which no light can escape.

Launched in 2016, NASA’s UArizona-led OSIRISREx mission is an achievement for the team led by

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Principal Investigator and Planetary Sciences Professor Dante Lauretta. The craft landed on the asteroid Bennu in 2020 to sample and collect the asteroid’s organic material, which will be analyzed by UArizona researchers. Recently, it was announced that OSIRIS-REx would visit a second asteroid.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, launched last December. UArizona husband-and-wife researchers Marcia and George Rieke played leadership roles: Marcia is the principal investigator for the Near Infrared Camera, the heart of the Webb Telescope for which she led the development. George is science team lead for the Mid-Infrared Instrument, added to the telescope to expand its reach.

Kristopher Klein, UArizona assistant professor of planetary sciences, will serve as deputy principal investigator for NASA’s HelioSwarm mission when it launches in 2028. The purpose is to better understand plasma, the state of matter that makes up 99% of the visible universe. The nine spacecraft in the “swarm” will collect data for at least a year.

Private sector companies, all of which owe their existence to UArizona, which provided employees to some of them from the pool of its College of Science graduates, help make Tucson a true Space City. FreeFall Aerospace develops antenna technology for satellite communications, fixed and mobile ground stations, aerial platforms and a variety of commercial and government applications. The company got its start in 2016 with high-frequency radio technology developed at UArizona. “We are very much tied to Tucson,” CEO Doug Stetson said. Collaboration with UArizona “benefits FreeFall

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