Research projects

Athena, the Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics, is the next flagship X-ray observatory, planned for launch by the European Space Agency (ESA) in the early 2030s with a significant contribution from NASA.

The BICEP Array is a planned array of four microwave telescopes to be installed at the geographic South Pole, replacing the now-decommissioned Keck Array. From there, the telescopes will observe the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the oldest detectable light in the Universe, at six different frequencies, search for evidence within the CMB of cosmic inflation.
The fourth-generation ground-based cosmic microwave background (CMB) experiment, or CMB-S4, consists of several dedicated telescopes equipped with highly sensitive superconducting cameras. These telescopes will spend seven years listening to the microwave sky at two locations already recognized for their suitability: the South Pole and the Atacama Plateau in Chile.
The CO Mapping Array Pathfinder (COMAP) uses a spectrographic technique called line-intensity mapping to trace carbon monoxide atoms in the very early universe—within about three billion years of the Big Bang, a time of intense star formation responsible for the creation of about half of the stars in existence today.

COFFIES is a NASA-funded Phase II DRIVE Science Center with the goal of solving some of the most difficult mysteries hidden in the deep interior of our Sun. COFFIES is working to establish a multi-institution collaboration to develop the most reliable data driven physical model of solar activity possible.

KIPAC researchers tackle a wide range of computational challenges as part of a mission to bridge the theoretical and experimental physics communities, enabling them to bring their combined strength to bear on some of the most challenging and fascinating problems in particle astrophysics and cosmology.
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) is the heart of a ground-based survey that will spend the first half of the next decade pinpointing the locations and spectra of up to 35 million galaxies and 2.4 million quasars across one-third of the night sky. DESI observations will be used to create a 3D map of a huge volume of space that stretches more than 11 billion years into the past. For millions of objects, the map will reveal how fast the Universe was expanding at different times and help constrain possible models of dark energy.
The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is a survey of distant galaxies that aims to unravel the mystery of cosmic acceleration. The DES uses multiple techniques to measure and study dark energy, the putative driving force of cosmic acceleration. Specifically, the DES studies dark energy through its impact on the abundance of galaxy clusters, weak gravitational lensing signals, type Ia supernovae and detections of large-scale correlations between galaxies.  The combination of these various approaches will allow DES scientists to gain a more robust understanding of the current cosmological paradigm.
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (FGST or Fermi) is a space-based observatory used to perform gamma-ray astronomy observations from low-Earth orbit. Originally called the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, the mission was renamed for the physicist Enrico Fermi after its launch in 2008. The mission is a joint venture of NASA, the United States Department of Energy and agencies and institutes in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Sweden.
GPI is designed to separate out and directly image the infrared light emitted from planets orbiting other stars. It uses a specialized coronagraph (star shade) to block the light of a target star, revealing light from dimmer nearby objects (such as exoplanets) the star's radiation would otherwise mask. When that faint exoplanetary light reaches the Earth, GPI uses thousands of tiny mirrors moving up to 1000 times each second to greatly reduce the blurring effect of the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in higher-resolution images. Imaging a planet with GPI is like seeing a firefly sitting on the… more
The Imaging X-ray Polarization Explorer (IXPE), scheduled to launch in 2021, will be the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays emitted by astrophysical objects in the 1-10keV band. Its launch will mark 40 years since polarization measurements of the Crab Nebula and pulsar at these energies—the only time such measurements have been taken.
The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment is searching for WIMP dark matter.

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (formerly the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST) is a mission designed to study dark energy, the evolution of galaxies, and the populations of extrasolar planets. A smaller version was the leading recommended large space-based project in the recent decadal survey and was later expanded to use a 2.4-m primary mirror. A 300-megapixel infrared camera gives it a field of view a hundred times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope, allowing unprecedented surveys of the infrared sky.

Currently under construction in Chile’s Atacama Desert, the Simons Observatory is a next-generation observatory that will look for signs of cosmic inflation and answer fundamental questions about the origin of the Universe.

The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10-meter telescope operating at the National Science Foundation's South Pole research station. Designed for conducting large-area millimeter and sub-millimeter wave surveys to map primary and secondary anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background, SPT is the largest telescope ever deployed at the South Pole. Currently, the third generation "SPT-3G" camera is surveying the southern sky to make an ultra-sensitive map of CMB polarization across 1500 sq. degrees, and construct an unprecedented catalog of high redshift galaxy clusters…

The Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (SuperCDMS) experiment is a second-generation experiment designed to directly detect dark matter particles, and so begin an era of dark matter science that will enable us to understand the nature of the dark matter that makes up 85% of the matter in the universe. The SuperCDMS experiment is designed to detect dark matter particles having masses equal to the mass of about one to a few protons. SuperCDMS is currently (as of 2020) being installed two kilometers underground in the SNOLAB facility in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
The Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) is a planned 10-year survey of the southern sky that will take place at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction on the El Penon peak of Cerro Pachon in northern Chile. The survey data will enable researchers around the world to better evaluate a wide range of pressing questions about the attributes of dark energy and dark matter, the formation of the Milky Way, the properties of small bodies in the solar system, the trajectories of potentially hazardous asteroids and the possible existence of undiscovered explosive phenomena.