UC Davis-led team achieves first light for flying infrared instrument

As we blogged last week, the EXES (Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph) instrument, a collaboration involving UC Davis and NASA Ames scientists and engineers and led by research scientist Matthew J. Richter of the UC Davis Physics Department, successfully carried out its first two flights with the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) on the nights of April 7 and 9.

SOFIA flying observatory passing over tonight

The SOFIA flying lab will make its second flight with the EXES experiment on board tonight. The EXES (Echelon-Cross-Echelle-Spectrograph) project is lead by UC Davis phyicist Matt Richter.

The flight plan should have SOFIA, which operates out of Palmdale, Calif., taking off about 7 p.m. Pacific Time and flying over the Sacramento area before heading out over the ocean west of Oregon and Washington for a series of observing legs.

Richter and his team will be aboard and expect to get in about eight hours of observations during the 10-hour flight.

Engineering professor’s ‘messaging code’ helps NASA communicate with IRIS spacecraft

One of NASA’s recent missions, the IRIS Solar Observatory, has been communicating its results via a 7/8 Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) code developed by Shu Lin, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The IRIS space telescope is studying the Sun's atmosphere.

Image of the Sun’s atmosphere from the IRIS space telescope.

The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft was launched on June 27, 2013, aboard an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket. The IRIS mission is designed to study the boundary between the lower layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, called the chromosphere, and the outer layer, the corona.  The mission will trace the flow of energy and plasma through the chromosphere and transition region into the corona, using spectrometry and imaging.

Rocket team flies high in Alabama

The UC Davis SpaceED rocket team has returned from the NASA Student Launch Projects competition in Huntsville, Alabama. They didn’t bring back prizes on their first trip to the competition — but they did bring back some great experiences, despite a few obstacles. Here’s a report from team coordinator Daniel Berman.

Watch a video of the launch on the team’s Facebook page.


We were pleased with our experience in Alabama. Getting there proved to be quite the challenge with our flights from Chicago being cancelled and having to spend a night in Houston. When we did finally arrive we had missed the introductory meetings and United lost our baggage that contained our payload electronics for about a day.

Students’ rocket to fly in NASA competition

A team of UC Davis students aims to fly their rocket exactly one mile high April 20 during NASA’s Student Launch Projects competition near Huntsville, Alabama. This is the first NASA Student Launch Projects 2013year the UC Davis SpaceED rocket team has taken part in the national competition.

The aim of the competition is to design, build and launch a rocket that can fly to an altitude of exactly one mile carrying a scientific payload, said team member Dan Berman, a fourth-year undergraduate majoring in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering. Teams lose points for every foot of altitude above or below the one-mile mark.