UT and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory partner up


UT students and faculty are now eligible to receive federal funding for space exploration research projects through a partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

JPL selected UT for its Strategic Research Partnership program, partnering JPL with universities. Student researchers and faculty at selected universities can propose collaborative research and educational projects with JPL researchers. UT is the 12th university joining this partnership. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a research institue based in California that handles active space exploration projects like the Mars Exploration Rovers.

Undergraduates, graduate students and UT faculty can all participate in the program, said Byron Tapley, director of UT’s Center for Space Research.

“This is a very big day and very important day,” Tapley said. “I was not aware of the program until Charles Elachi brought it to my attention, and I think it is something we really need here. I am happy to see this day come to pass.”

JPL director Charles Elachi said this agreement comes after years of work with UT.

“We have had a long-term with individual relationship with individual faculty at UT,” Elachi said. “What we wanted to do was build a stronger and longer relationship.”

In the past, UT and JPL collaborated on the GRACE Satellite Program, launching two satellites in 2002. They are currently taking measurements in the Earth’s gravitational field.

Elachi said this partnership also creates an “employment pipeline” for students.