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There is no bigger stage than the Universe. It is, at once & the same time, our origin, our sustainer and (for some lucky few) our professions. It surrounds us but is, like our oceans, both easy to perceive & deucedly difficult to study. Up until now, astronomy &  astrophysics were expensive pursuits that were also subject to chaotic weather conditions, unless you went into Space, which is a whole other level of expense.


Well this Summer we here @ ASDRP look to deliver rigorous experiences (& perhaps experiments) using the exact same data as the Big Players (think NASA & the ESA): we'll continue exploring the public data for potentially habitable Exoplanets; or search for Pulsars & Fast Radio Bursts [FRBs] using instrumentation we build ourselves, while learning the natures of these strange beasts; or perhaps we'll build our own Laser Interferometer Gravity Observatory [LIGO] while learning about that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum [EM] we call 'light'; or maybe we'll come up with something absolutely new. This year in ASDRP promises to be an exciting time for Astronomy & Astrophysics. Come join us!

Listening for gigaJansky Fast Radio Burst Objects

Searching for giga-Jansky fast radio bursts from the Milky Way with a global array of low-cost radio receivers. “We propose searching for Galactic FRBs using a global array of low-cost radio receivers. One possibility is the ~ 1 GHz communication channel in cellular phones, through a Citizens-Science downloadable application. Participating phones would continuously listen for and record candidate FRBs and would periodically up-load information to a central data-processing website which will identify the signature of a real, globe-encompassing, FRB from an astronomical distance.”

Crab Nebula

Mining for "Goldilocks Zone" Exoplanets

Are there other planets out there in the universe that possess the physical conditions necessary to support life? Here, we pursue securing a publicly-available dataset describing current exoplanet discoveries, and employ data mining & machine learning to extract potential life-bearing candidates. This would involve examining the external data for objects lying within the “Goldilocks” zone - that region that represents orbital parameters in which liquid water would obtain.

Planet and Moon

Identification of Near-Earth Objects (NEO) 

We are involved in high-throughput data analysis for identification of near-earth objects (NEO's), which are extraterrestrial entities such as comets and asteroids that fly through Earth's neighborhood. Here, we employ data mining & machine learning to extract potential life-threatening candidates. This can be done by examining time-series image(s) of a region for changes in pixel value(s).

Cosmic Pink

Computational Exploration of New Atomic Clocks

The precision of modern atomic clocks has formed the foundation of cutting-edge technologies in the 21st century. Atomic clocks have enabled centimeter-precision GPS, redefined the kilogram, and can pave the way forward for precision scientific measurements such as the world’s first direct imaging of supermassive black holes. We will develop and mature a Python interface for GRASP 2018, a popular FORTRAN code that calculates energy levels and oscillator strengths for atomic systems to characterize the properties of promising future clock systems.

Lines Of Code

Engineering novel photovoltaic spacecraft conductive polymers

Harvesting solar energy from the sun is important in powering spacecraft, telescopes, and other extraterrestrial vehicles. Additional challenges include the need for stability and durability to thermal and radiative stress. This work incorporates an overlap of physical chemistry, materials engineering, polymer design, and production of novel photovoltaic materials for potential application in spacecraft engineering. In particular, we are interested in the nanoscale engineering of graphene-based polymer networks as the basis for spacecraft energy needs.

Energy Efficiency Consultation

Host Galaxies of Fast Radio Bursts (FRB)

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are bright, millisecond-duration radio transients of unknown origin originating from cosmologically-distant galaxies. They are extreme astrophysical phenomena: a single FRB can emit ∼ 10^39 W of power in under a millisecond, and generates electromagnetic fields strong enough to rip apart the vacuum of spacetime into electron-positron pairs. Since they are transient phenomena, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint the host galaxies for these events to understand more about what produces FRBs. However, a handful of events have been localized to host galaxies. We wish to understand the sizes, masses, and gas content of these host galaxies.


Advisors & Principal Investigators


Robert A. Downing

Data Science, Astronomy, Cryptography. Chair, Computer Science & Engineering


Nilai Patel

Inorganic & Electrochemistry, Materials Science


Larry McMahan

Electrical Engineering, Computer Science

Guest Speakers and Seminars

08.06.2020 Astrophysics Lectureship: Dhruv Muley

Join us this Thursday at 5-6 PM (or watch the recording) for our second Astrophysics lectureship. This week, Dhruv Muley, a theoretical astrophysicist, will be sharing cutting-edge research on the physics of planet formation. Circumstellar disks of gas and dust are an inevitable byproduct of the process of star formation. Over time, these evolve and eventually disperse by various mechanisms, giving way to the rich variety of planetary systems we observe today. In particular, so-called “transition disks”—an intermediate phase defined by large interior cavities—may be shaped by disk-planet interaction. We study this hypothesis with hydrodynamical simulations of the PDS 70 system and its recently-discovered multi-Jupiter-mass companion, PDS 70b.  

Click here for details.

07.21.2020 Astrophysics Lectureship: Calvin Leung

Join us this Tuesday at 8-9 PM (or watch the recording) for our first Astrophysics lectureship. Calvin Leung, one of our very own ASDRP research advisors, completed his undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, and has also previously worked as a vibration engineer aboard Falcon 9 at SpaceX. Today, Calvin is pursuing his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in physics, studying the phenomena of fast radio bursts: brief, intense flashes of radio-frequency light originating from outside the Milky Way. His past research interests have included quantum communication and searching for dark matter using atomic clocks. 

Click here for details.

Former Investigators

calvin leung.webp

Calvin Leung

Quantum Mechanics and Applied Physics

Calvin Leung is pursuing a PhD in physics at MIT studying the phenomena of fast radio bursts: brief, intense flashes of radio-frequency light originating from outside the Milky Way. His past research interests have included quantum communication and searching for dark matter using atomic clocks. In addition, he was a vibration engineer working on the Falcon 9 at SpaceX. Students interested in joining his group should reach out to him.


Nicholas Papano

Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Computer Science

The Papano research group at ASDRP is interested in applying the tools of 3D printing and computer science towards applications in physics, engineering, and mechanical design. The group has been previously involved in aerodynamics research, using 3D printing to optimize turbine design - this summer he will be involved in capturing gigajansky radiobursts using a trans-national Raspberry Pi cluster.

Guest Speakers
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