Fast Facts

UArizona has a strong legacy of detecting and tracking moving objects, dating back 50 years. Learn More.

Between 20,000 and 100,000 new satellites are forecast to be launched into space over the next decade, potentially creating a major traffic jam in space if not managed in a sustainable way.

In 2022, Space4 researchers received $7.5 million from the Air Force Research Lab to develop ways to detect, characterize and track objects in cislunar space, or the space between Earth and the moon. Learn more.

The researchers also operate a Space Domain Awareness Observatory complex, located near Biosphere 2 and, as part of a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Air Force, developed VerSSA, an extension of CyVerse's computational infrastructure focused on space domain awareness.

A 2022 MOU between UArizona and the University of Western Australia created a formal collaborative partnership between two academic institutions with unparalleled expertise in orbital space.

Creating a legal framework for operators in space is central to the future of space exploration. Space4 will collaborate with Andrew Keane Woods, professor of law, to develop a first-of-its-kind executive course in space law at UArizona. The course will be offered to UArizona students and industry leaders in collaboration with the university's D.C. Center for Outreach & Collaboration.

Space4 gives UArizona the opportunity to strategically align with federal research priorities during a once-in-a-generation moment in the nation's history. Founded in 2019, Space Force is already funded at nearly the same level as NASA. President Joe Biden's fiscal year 2023 budget request for Space Force was $24.5 billion, compared to NASA's $26 billion, and 65% of those funds will be dedicated to research development. 

The center will collaborate with the university's Institute for Computation and Data-Enabled Insight on workforce development and building expertise in data science specifically for classified environments.

Other related highlights:

UArizona research is heavily funded by NASA, with the university ranking fifth in the nation among public universities for NASA-funded research activity.

UArizona is leading OSIRIS-REx, NASA's first mission to collect and return to Earth a sample from the surface of an asteroid. The mission was recently extended to study the near-Earth asteroid Apophis for 18 months.

UArizona leads both the Catalina Sky Survey and Spacewatch programs, which have discovered about half of all known near-Earth asteroids.

UArizona leads NEO Surveyor, the first space-based telescope dedicated to planetary defense.


The volume of space influenced by the Earth and/or Moon. (Source: AFRL)

An object in GEO is in very high orbit. It travels at the same rate and direction as the Earth's spin on its axis and may or may not be following an inclined orbit (with respect to the equatorial plane). A spacecraft in GEO appears to remain above Earth at a constant longitude, although it may seem to wander north and south. The spacecraft returns to the same point in the sky at the same time each day. An object in geostationary orbit remains exactly above the Earth’s equator at all times, so it hangs seemingly motionless above a point on Earth. This orbit is ideal for certain kinds of communication satellites and meteorological satellites. (Source: NASA)

Encompasses Earth-centered orbits with an altitude of 2,000 km (1,243 miles) or less. For the purposes of the Commercial Use Policy, low-Earth orbit is considered the area in Earth orbit near enough to Earth for convenient transportation, communication, observation and resupply. This is the area where the International Space Station currently orbits and where many proposed future platforms will be located. (source: NASA)

An Earth-centered orbit with an altitude above LEO and below a high Earth orbit – between 2,000 and 35,786 km (1,243 and 22,236 miles) above sea level. MEO is commonly used for navigation systems, including GPS.

Everything beyond GEO, including cislunar space.

Comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood. (source: NASA)

Space as a military domain like air, sea and land; ID, characterization and understanding intent that could impact the security, safety, economy or environment of our nation.

Artificial objects in space such as satellites, rocket bodies, and space debris.

Catalog maintenance (detect, track, ID), looking at space as a benign environment.

Focused on debris risk mitigation, technical and regulatory, rules of the road for safe operations in space and return from space without physical or RF interference.