National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration partners with researchers across U-M to discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity, while supporting innovation and technology development to advance our space exploration capabilities.



Research Supported by NASA in FY23


Active Projects Supported by NASA


Faculty, Postdocs and Grad Students Supported Annually by NASA

$9.7M for tools to improve forecasts of harmful space weather

When the sun flares it releases energetic particles that can damage spacecraft and harm astronauts. The CLEAR Center aims to produce 24-hour forecasts of the amount of such solar particles at any given part of the solar system. Image credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics ObservatorySpace weather predictions are neither accurate nor timely, and that leaves astronauts—as well as space probe and satellite operators—without enough time to react to dangerous particles flung out by the sun, which can arrive in as little as 30 minutes. The CLEAR Center will build tools that give space instrument operators and astronauts more advanced notice of harmful space weather in any given region of the solar system

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Researchers measure the light emitted by a sub-Neptune planet’s atmosphere for the first time

U-M graduate student Isaac Malsky, a co-author of the study, ran three-dimensional models for the planet, testing models with and without clouds and hazes, to see how these aerosols shape the thermal structure of the planet and help interpret the data. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)A team of researchers from the University of Michigan and University of Maryland used JWST to observe GJ 1214b’s atmosphere by measuring the heat it emits while orbiting its host star. Their results, published in the journal Nature, represent the first time anyone has directly detected the light emitted by a sub-Neptune exoplanet—a category of planets that are larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.

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Tracking ocean microplastics from space

Yukun Sun, a graduate student research assistant, and William Leal, a research assistant, both in the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the University of Michigan, work together to set up an experiment where microplastic pellets are placed on the surface of the water in the wind wave tank at the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory to determine how they effect measurements of surface roughness on June 18, 2021.  A University of Michigan research team discovered in 2021 that data recorded by the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), showed less surface roughness—that is, fewer and smaller waves—in areas of the ocean that contain microplastics, compared to clean areas. They then determined that the change in ocean roughness was actually due to the presence of surfactants, a soapy or oily residue on the surface of the water that often accompany microplastics.  Photo: Robert Coelius/Michigan Engineering

New information about an emerging technique that could track microplastics from space has been uncovered by researchers at the University of Michigan. It turns out that satellites are best at spotting soapy or oily residue, and microplastics appear to tag along with that residue.

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