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UGA Space and Planetary Science and Engineering Program Receives Early-Stage Funding From the Teaming for Interdisciplinary Research (TIR) Pre-Seed Program

June 1, 2022

The UGA SPSEP is one of 12 Interdisciplinary Research Teams Awarded Funding in 2022.


Phillip Stancil, professor and department head for Physics and Astronomy leads the UGA SPSEP Research team with 9 other faculty members from the Departments of English, Geography Marine Sciences, Chemistry, as well as the College of Public Health, the College of Engineering, the School of Public and International Affairs, and the Mary Frances Early College of Education.

The initial focus of this effort will be to develop ideas for team proposals in a host of space and planetary science and engineering areas through group meetings, small workshops, visits to potential collaborators, and funding sources. Clearly, NASA is the prime funding agency for this effort through its many directorates (Science, Space Technology, Mission Support, etc.), but certain opportunities may exist in industry. Two immediate target of opportunities have already been identified:

  • The preparation of a white paper to the NASA Small Spacecraft Technology Program to build 2 small satellite buses per year to meet their demand. These buses would be built by students in the SSRL likely as part of a capstone project.
  • A proposal to the NASA Planetary Science program for the Laboratory Analysis of Returned Samples, i.e., rocks from the Moon, asteroids, and eventually Mars, using nanooptics approaches developed at UGA and may lead to a national facility for sample analysis.

Further, the team members have come up with a vast range of initial ideas to pursue including: i) space environmental effects on materials for communications, shielding, and electronics, ii) space environmental effects on human health, medicine, and in-situ monitoring, iii) space environmental effects on biomolecules, iv) physics and geology of extraterrestrial surfaces, v) habitability of extraterrestrial environments for humans/plants, v) vibration/acoustic effects on spacecraft and payloads, vi) legal, social, and public administration aspects of space exploration, vii) journalism, fiction, and arts in space exploration, viii) In-situ astrophysics investigations from and geophysics studies on the moon, and ix) assessing public support for space exploration.

The pre-seed funding will be used to build and maintain a team website, contribute to team meeting and workshop expenses, cover travel to relevant collaborator and funder sites, and possibly for salaries for part-time students to engage in group literature search and research.

About The Teaming for Interdisciplinary Research Pre-Seed Program

The Teaming for Interdisciplinary Research (TIR) Pre-Seed Program provides early stage developmental funding to facilitate the formation of faculty teams and collaboration around critical areas of research expertise or emerging research topics. The goal of the pre-seed funding is to stimulate the formation of new interdisciplinary research teams that position UGA faculty to be competitive for attracting resources for collaborative research, including internal UGA seed grants and ultimately, external grant support. The Program, first launched in the 2019-2020 academic year, is offered by the Office of the Vice President for Research, in partnership with the Office of the Provost.

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