The Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics, and Engineering Research (CASPER) is a stand-alone research center located at Baylor University. CASPER consists of six independent research groups in both theoretical and experimental physics. The Astrophysics and Space Science Theory Group (ASSTG), the Early Universe Cosmology and Strings Group (EUCOS) and the Gravity, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics Group (GCAP) all pursue theoretical research while CASPER's experimental groups operate the Hypervelocity Impacts and Dusty Plasmas Lab (HIDPL), the Space Science Lab (SSL) and the Paul and Jane Meyer Observatory. Both the HIDPL and the SSL experimental research facilities are built around a partnership between Baylor University and Texas State Technical College-Waco (TSTC) that exists through signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Presidents of the two institutions. The Paul and Jane Meyer Observatory is utilized by CASPER faculty and students through signed Memorandum of Understanding between CASPER and the Central Texas Astronomical Society (CAS).
CASPER is an interdisciplinary center including faculty from the Departments of Physics and Mathematics in the College of Arts & Sciences, Entrepreneurship within the School of Business, Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education and Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in the School of Engineering at Baylor University. Through signed memorandums of understanding, CASPER is also an international center listing adjunct faculty from and partnerships with NASA JSC, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Birkeland Current, the Chongquing University of Posts and Telecommunications, the Coalition for Plasma Science, Eotvos Lorand University, the Institute of Space Systems, MCT Petropolis, the Texas Space Grant Consortium, the University of Stuttgart, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Texas at Dallas, Virginia Tech and the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics.
CASPER is housed in outstanding facilities within the new Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative located in the Central Texas Technology and Research Park. Since this move in early 2013, all of CASPER is under one roof for the first time in the Center's history. The BRIC is conveniently located to all modes of commercial land-based and airborne transport, providing CASPER researchers, industry/business clients and partnering institutions and organizations with over 300,000 square feet of functional space designed and appointed as Laboratories, Prototyping and testing, Offices and workspace, Workforce training, Business formation and development activities, Meeting/symposium halls Within the BRIC, CASPER also features museum-quality scientific/technical artifact exhibits designed to spark interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among area K-12 students and the community in general.
Space research at CASPER has a proud heritage dating back to the 1960's and including flight projects from Explorer I forward. Personnel within the Center have been actively involved on a number of NASA and ESA flight missions including Explorer I, Vanguard III, Explorer VI, Explorer VIII, the OGO series, the Atlas Able IV Lunar Satellites, Ranger I, Ranger II, Surveyor, Lunar Explorer 35, Pioneer V, Mariner II, Mariner IV, the Cometary Dust Environment Monitor (CODEM), the Dust Impact Detection System (DIDSY), the European Retrievable Carrier, the Particulate Matter Experiment and the Wakeshield Facility projects. CODEM was a funded (~$7.4 million to Baylor) experimental package on NASA's Comet Rendezvous & Asteroid Flyby (CRAF) mission. Although the CRAF mission was canceled after completion of the design phase, a modest version of the CODEM instrument was flown on two shuttle missions during the 90's and CRAF's sister mission Cassini is now in orbit around Saturn. The Dust Impact Detection System (DIDSY) was flown as part of the European Space Agency Giotto Comet Halley scientific payload.