Steward Observatory Radio Telescope
The University of Arizona has constructed a spacecraft command station at the Biosphere 2. The station includes a 6.1 meter diameter radio antenna to communicate with satellites and other spacecraft. It also includes a data center and control room. The station provides a facility for research teams, students, and the public to interact with spacecraft and conduct scientific research. The large audiovisual displays communicate critical data and can be customized for specific missions or projects.
This telescope is part of the Arizona Array which was developed in 2019 by Steward Observatory, the University of Arizona and Rincon Research Corporation. The antenna can track low earth orbit, mid earth orbit, and geostationary satellites. The high-quality primary and secondary reflectors allow it to function up through Ka band. The antenna is currently equipped with multiple software defined radios. Research teams will use project-specific instrumentation for transmission and reception.
The UA spacecraft command station will support future space missions led by UArizona and other institutions.
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Lunar and Planetary Lab (LPL) Observatories
In 2016, the University of Arizona (UA) started a space situational awareness (SSA) cluster in which four faculty were hired to develop a program where the UA would contribute significantly towards our national security needs. The cluster built upon the university’s capabilities such as cyber infrastructure (CyVerse), astronomical telescopes and asteroid tracking (Catalina Sky Survey and Spacewatch). The UA has several astronomical observational facilities around Tucson and manage other observatories at premiere locations around the world. However, a majority of these facilities are not suited for non-astronomical research work such as space surveillance. Developing a dedicated facility that is focused on SSA research would build upon the astronomical heritage of the university but also enable faculty to conduct cutting edge research that address our national security needs.
The development of an SSA dedicated observatory at Biosphere 2 offers several unique advantages. These includes its proximity to Tucson and the University of Arizona campus making it easy to access and give tours to VIPs from the Department of Defense; relatively dark site that is not on a mountain top; availability of existing support infrastructure such as roads, power, water, internet, security; and opportunity for developing SSA educational programs using existing infrastructure. The only dedicated SSA observational facility is the student-built RAPTORS telescope on the 6th floor of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) on UA campus. While this telescope offers the students easy access to an observational facility, it is also in the middle of campus and suffers from severe light pollution due to surrounding athletic facilities.
Currently there are >17,000 objects in the US space surveillance network in Earth orbit with thousands more that are tracked but not in the catalog. With <5% of these objects being active satellites, the threat of a runaway collisional cascade is real. Exploiting this dire situation are nation states that have adversarial motives than our own who could resort to a range of tactics including masking an active satellite as debris with malicious intentions. The primary goal of the proposed observatory is to exploit key advances in spectral fingerprinting to uniquely identify and characterize an RSOs using their visible-wavelength spectra. By conducting a systematic survey of all RSOs in orbit, we will be able to build a spectral catalog that would enable us to keep track them.
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Solar River- A Water Energy Solution
Tectonicus Constructs LLC, with support by the Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research grant, is developing structural solutions to support PV panel arrays over irrigation canals. Designed to be competitive with land-based systems, these Canal Spanning Solar Projects (CCPS) represent a unique opportunity for farmers and irrigation districts to upgrade their infrastructure, reduce energy costs and generate clean power without disrupting precious agricultural land.
Since 1990, national cropland prices have almost tripled, while farmer's income has plummeted, forcing farmers to squeeze more profits out of their land. Covering and powering irrigation canals wells and the grid with solar gives landowner's secondary revenue, reduces evaporation and irrigation costs and provides new energy jobs to rural agricultural communities without sacrificing crop income. With its high levels of solar radiation, extensive canal networks and high cost of land in key agricultural areas, Arizona is an excellent site for CCSP.
iGLOBES and CNRS
The IRL iGLOBES -- Interdisciplinary and Global Environmental Studies -- is an international and interdisciplinary research laboratory founded in 2008 by an agreement between the University of Arizona (UA) and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS-INSHS/INEE). In 2018, the agreement was extended to include the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, as a third partner. iGLOBES is hosted by the UA Biosphere 2 department and located on the UA main campus in Tucson.
iGLOBES aims at establishing a hub of collaborative interactions between the French scientific community and UA to foster interdisciplinary research on global environmental challenges. iGLOBES is thus designed to strengthen international cooperation between French and American researchers, in social, physical and natural sciences. Essential to iGLOBES vision is its role in training the next generations of interdisciplinary global researchers at the interface of social and environmental sciences. At the core of iGLOBES scientific agenda is the question of sustainable life and living in extreme environments, in the regional and historical context of arid lands and transboundary systems.