Space Disciplines

Space Disciplines

Covering everything from robotics and space instrument engineering, to astrophysics, space policy, and Earth sciences, CSTAR represents a wide range of cutting edge space science and research.


Astrophysics research at Georgia Tech is focused on neutron stars, black holes, and other high-energy and violent phenomena in the universe. Georgia Tech students and faculty make use of ground-based and space-based observatories, massive supercomputers, and particle detectors buried in the Antarctic ice to investigate physical processes at temperatures, densities, and energies so extreme they would make Earth-based experiments impossible. This research is focused within the Georgia Tech Center for Relativistic Astrophysics.

Earth Sciences

Earth scientists at Georgia Teach research a range of Earth processes that include evolving ocean currents, the impact of melting glaciers on global sea level, atmospheric response to increased levels of greenhouse gases, and the detection/prediction of natural hazards such as hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. CSTAR Earth scientists combine expertise in the interpretation and processing of Earth science data with the development of next generation instrument systems. Learn more about research in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Planetary Science

At Georgia Tech, planetary science spans several schools on campus, reflecting a crucial diversity of expertise in this interdisciplinary field. Planetary science research uses a range of methods including modeling spacecraft data and laboratory/field work, and spans topics from planetary interiors all the way out to the edge of a planet’s near space environment, including surface processes and magnetospheres. Georgia Tech faculty are also heavily involved with NASA planetary science missions, including Juno, Dawn, Cassini, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Curiosity, JUICE, and Europa Clipper. Learn more about research in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.


Robotics is fundamental to enabling exploratory craft to navigate and function in space, on terrain, or underwater. Our faculty are actively involved in developing state-of-the-art techniques to enable novel planetary science missions as well as measurement of hazardous environments here on Earth. Ongoing research by CSTAR members includes intelligent localization methods for autonomously landing robotic explorers, design of robotic systems for exploring under glacial surfaces, and methods for human-robot interaction that enable teleoperated control of robotic assets. Learn more about robotics research at Georgia Tech.

Space Policy & Security

Space policy research explores a range of civil, military, and commercial space policy issues, examining the origins and evolution of space policy over time and its strategic role in international affairs. Georgia Tech space policy research addresses current challenges and strategies for human exploration, space debris, Earth observation, and commercial space. Our focus is to provide a better understanding of these complex issues for national and international policymakers. Learn more about space policy research at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.

Space Technology

Space technology research at Georgia Tech focuses on advancing the critical technologies needed to enable next-generation space missions. Core Georgia Tech space technology competencies include: advanced space materials, chemical and electric propulsion, communication systems, entry, descent, and landing systems, formation flight, proximity operations, remote sensing, robotics, small satellites, space access, and space situational awareness. Learn more about space technology research in the School of Aerospace Engineering.

Space Systems Engineering

Space systems engineering at Georgia Tech integrates multiple disciplines for the design, development, and operation of advanced space systems. Tech’s space systems engineering conducts advanced research in: responsive space concepts, architectures, technologies, and systems; Moon and Mars exploration, concepts, architectures, technology, missions, and systems; access to small bodies, feasibility studies, technology, and systems. Flight projects provide students with hands-on experience and real-world application. Recent student space flight projects include: RECONSO, Prox-1, and LightSail. Learn more about space technology research in the Space Systems Design Laboratory.

Space Weather

Space weather is the dynamic response of the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field to the energetic wave and particle flux from the Sun. Some magnetosonic reverberations of space weather are quite beautiful, such as aurora at high latitudes, but others are dangerous, like radiation degradation of satellite electronics, high voltage charging, and increased drag. Astronaut safety can be threated, and massive power outages can occur. We can lose satellite communications and GPS (including cell phone network, financial system, etc). Yet, our ability to forecast space weather remains in its infancy. Our research involves advanced theoretical modeling of plasmas and gas dynamics from the Sun’s interior all the way to the Earth, high-performance computing, advanced satellite constellation measurements, data science, and machine learning. Learn more about research in the Georgia Tech Center for Relativistic Astrophysics.