A brief description of each research area along with selected papers and related links are supplied to provide applicants with relevant background material. A more comprehensive description with a list of selected CASPER papers and background reading material is included as a single pdf document in the Resources area.
CASPER - HIDPL/SSL Summaries
The Space Science Lab develops diagnostics and science packages for use on spacecraft, including nanosatellites and space missions. Small Satellites provide opportunities for research in near-earth orbit and as components of deeper space missions. CASPER has specific interest in the detection of interplanetary dust and orbital debris as spacecraft in near-earth orbit and on deeper space missions are subject to damage from dust impacts. Low velocity (less than 1 km/s) impact studies are designed to characterize the dust encountered in space and test materials for damage. The Space Science Lab within CASPER currently has several active flight missions on which they will be providing the science instrument. Development of these dust detector experiments is currently underway. As such, REU Fellows can participate in (among others):
Self-Assembling Dust Structures in an RF Reference Cell - Truell Hyde, Lorin Matthews, Jie Kong, Ke Qiao, Jorge Carmona, Mike Cook, Jimmy Schmoke
CASPER ASSTG Summaries
Numerical Simulation of Preplanetary Dust Aggregation - Truell Hyde, Lorin Matthews Recent data from the Hubble telescope show that planetary formation from the cloud of gas and dust orbiting a new protostar is a much more efficient process than first believed and may occur on a time scale of less than 10 million years. Initially uncharged grains in space and laboratory plasma environments become charged due to currents driven by potential differences in the dusty plasma. Certain macroscopic effects such as coagulation of smaller grains into larger fluffy aggregates are then affected by the grain charge. The charge distribution on the aggregate structure itself appears to play a role in determining the coagulation rate for the dust population. As particles collide, a numerical code can be used to determine the effect of the dipole and higher multipole charge distributions on the openness of the resultant fractal aggregate and the coagulation rates of the particles. A list of current projects available within the CASPER theory group, along with background reading material, is appended to this document.
Gravitoelectrodynamics in Saturn's Rings - Truell Hyde, Lorin Matthews Saturn's magnetic field exerts a significant perturbative force on charged micron- and submicron-sized grains in its ring system. This force has been shown to cause the formation of "spokes" in Saturn's B ring and may play a large role in the formation of the evolving clumps, kinks, braids and waves observed in Saturn's F Ring. These effects can be modeled numerically using the Box_Tree code and can be used to predict or explain new features that currently being seen by the Cassini probe in orbit around Saturn. A list of current projects available within the CASPER theory group, along with background reading material, is appended to this document.
CASPER Experimental Astronomy Summaries
Central Texas Astronomical Society
CASPER - EUCOS Projects
Theoretical Early Universe Cosmology and Superstrings - Gerald Cleaver
Department of Physics Research Projects
Experimental High Energy Physics - Jay R. Dittmann and Kenichi Hatakeyama