Welcome to Space @ Virginia Tech

Michael Sherburne named 2018 Outstanding Senior for the College of Engineering

Congratulations to Michael Sherburne, electrical engineering, for being named 2018 Outstanding Senior for the College of Engineering.   Michael has been working with Dr. Colin Adams at Space @ VT's Plasma Diagnostic Laboratory .  Full story from VT News is here.

Space @ VT Selected as Google Sumer of Code Organization


May 14, 2018 Update:  Space @ VT's GSoC was allowed two project slots and has accepted two students, Sneha Singhania (International Institutue of Information Technology-Bangalore) and Esther Robb (Virginia Tech), to work on projects over the summer.   

Space @ Virginia Tech has been accepted as a Google Summer of Code (GSoC) organization for 2018! This program allows undergraduate and graduate students to propose to work on open source projects that benefit the open source community and the community related to the organization. Project ideas and more information about how to apply to Space@VT's GSoC program can be found on the info page(external link) on the Space@VT site.

Interested students should begin working on the Google form to send us some introductory info as well as a simple coding task. From there, proposals can start to be submitted to the GSoC website beginning on March 12, 2018 and ending on March 27, 2018. For more information, please e-mail the Space@VT GSoC e-mail: space.vt.gsoc@gmail.com.

Space@VT is excited to be working with the GSoC program for it's first year and very honored to be selected amongst only a few other higher education organizations!

2017 Virginia Tech RockSat-X Launch a Massive Success

VT RockSat-X Launch 2017

The launch went off without a hitch almost exactly at 0530 this morning. I am incredibly pleased to report that the VT experiment was a massive success. We received thousands of packets from the payload at both the Mobile Ground Station and the Virginia Tech Ground Station. In addition to this we can confirm that the payload also received uplink commands from the VTGS 4.5m Dish antenna (First Official Transmission from the VTGS!). We had a minor anomaly in the reception of one type of target emitter, but other than that (and the ridiculous amount of mosquitoes), we were very pleased with the launch and the results, read more.

Congratulations to Dr. Scott Bailey and his team on a successful sounding rocket launch at Poker Flat Research Range in Fairbanks, Alaska. The launch can be viewed around the 38 minute mark in the embedded video above.

The NASA sounding rocket, Polar Night Nitric Oxide (PolarNox) was successfully launched on January 26. The mission was led  by Dr. Scott Bailey of Space@VT with the support of Dr. Justin Carstens, Karthik Venkataramani, Stephen Noel, Dr. Brentha Thurairajah, and several others. A key collaborator and designer of the instrument is Dr. William McClintock of the University of Colorado.

Nitric oxide plays an important role in upper atmospheric dynamics, but its abundance in the the polar regions under prolonged nighttime conditions is not well known. The PolarNOx experiment was proposed as the first direct measurement of nitric oxide densities in the polar night. By looking at a star through the Earth's atmosphere and measuring attenuation of the starlight at specific wavelengths, we can infer the amount of nitric oxide present in the atmosphere. This technique is known as stellar occultation, and was achieved in the PolarNOx payload by using a Cassegrain telescope which collected the starlight, and a spectrograph assembly which produced the required spectrum.

Space@VT Welcomes Dr. Scott England

Dr. Scott England

Dr Scott England is an Associate Professor in the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department.  His research focuses on the interactions between planetary atmospheres and the space environment.  He is the Project Scientist for NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON), a co-Investigator on NASA’s Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission of opportunity and a Participating Scientist on NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission.   

Virginia Tech data stations in Antarctica present
new evidence about space weather

Space@VT Celebrates RockSat-X Launch

RockSat-X launched early Wednesday, August 17, 2016 and carried a payload designed by Virginia Tech students. The payload experiment was a great success, sending data from 153km over the Atlantic Ocean all the way back to the Virginia Tech Ground Station (VTGS). More info coming soon.


Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

News Highlights


Space@VT graduate students Gustavo Gargioni and Marco Peterson traveled to the Virginia Museum of Transportation yesterday for Roanoke STEAM Day.

They put on demonstrations of the newly constructed mobile drone cage, for kids of all ages.

NASA explorer mission GOLD launches

GOLD will be the first NASA science mission to fly as a hosted payload on a commercial communications satellite. Photo credit: NASA.
GOLD will be the first NASA science mission to fly as a hosted payload on a commercial communications satellite. Photo credit: NASA.

Two new NASA missions are teaming up to explore the boundary between Earth and space.

Set to launch Jan. 25 from French Guiana, the GOLD mission will be the first NASA science mission to fly as a hosted payload on a commercial communications satellite. The mission will provide unprecedented imaging of the Earth’s upper atmosphere from geostationary orbit, read more.

Music of the Spheres; Big Data Meets Big Sound

Music of the Spheres
Teaching a Computer to Transform Data Into Sound. Woohun Joo(second from right) wears motion capture gloves to 'conduct' music and sound in the "Cube" at Virginia Tech. L to R, Greg Earl, Disha Sardana, Woohun Joo, Ico Bukvic

Most of us learn by using our eyes. Whether it’s reading or poring over formulas, graphs and charts, it’s a mostly visual experience.  Now, professors at Virginia Tech are exploring a new way to add another dimension to teaching and learning by transforming data into sound, read more.

Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute Helps Virginia Students Prepare for Space Flight


The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI) is working with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) to test components of student satellites bound for orbit.  The Institute’s proton beam, which offers cutting edge cancer treatments, is being used to simulate the impact of radiation encountered in the space environment on space hardware developed by the students, read more.

The Total Solar Eclipse: Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity

On Aug. 21, the moon will move in front of the sun, dissolving daylight into night for mere moments. For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire country from the Pacific to the Atlantic, giving scientists and engineers a chance to conduct research on systems we rely on for communication, safety, and even transportation, read more.

Eclipse Hunters: Space @ VT team readying for eclipse

Teams from Virginia Tech and Radford University have been readying for a while for what will be a few moments of prime research time on Aug. 21.

That’s the day of the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States since 1979, read more.

Dr. Mark Psiaki named American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Fellow

Dr. Mark Psiaki

Space @ VT's Mark Psiaki, the Kevin Crofton Faculty Chair of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, was recently selected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the world’s largest aerospace professional society, read more.