University of California, San Diego

Center for Astrophysics & Space Sciences


    What is CASS?

CASS, the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, is an interdisciplinary Organized Research Unit of the University of California, San Diego.

Goals of CASS:

CASS consists of about 50 academic and research staff, many of whom are affiliated with the university departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. Since CASS is a research organization it does not offer any university degrees. Undergraduate and graduate students working at CASS are registered in university departments and supervised by faculty members affiliated with CASS through their departments.

CASS scientists are involved in a number of research areas. They search out the hottest things in the Universe, hundreds of million degree glowing plasmas around black holes - as well as the coldest, dark matter that may pervade space and which would only make its presence known by temporarily focusing light from distant stars. They delve into what's going on at spinning neutron stars to produce those cosmic lighthouse beacons known as pulsars. The most distant objects known - quasars at the edge of the observable universe - not only yield tantalizing insights into their nature, but also allow the investigation of intervening matter, be it in galaxies or intergalactic space. Since the light from these distant galaxies is millions to billions of years old, the evolution of the Universe and its constituents is of prime interest within CASS. Nearer to home, solar experts try to understand the violent activity ongoing in the Sun and how the matter ejected interacts with the Earth and its protective magnetic shield.

CASS personnel have the expertise and equipment to handle the design and development of instruments for ground-based and space observations. They have provided major instruments for ground-based facilities such as Keck and Mt. Lemmon and for major NASA space missions, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, and Pioneer. Several space experiments are under development for launch within the next few years.. In addition to national facilities, astronomers at CASS have access to several other facilities operated under the University of California Observatories. These include the Mt. Lemmon Observing Facility (shared with U. Minnesota), as well as the Lick Observatory and Keck Telescopes. (The Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories are not part of the University of California system, being owned and operated by CalTech.)

CASS is headquartered in the new Science and Engineering Research Facility (SERF) at the heart of the UCSD Campus in La Jolla, California (directions and map), Some of the members have their offices with their home departments in the Physics, Chemistry and Engineering buildings. Seminars, colloquia, and other presentations are held in various locations around the campus.

Short history of CASS and the HST/FOS Project for the Physics Department newsletter (Nov 1994).

For further information about CASS please contact Cheryl Matson in the Director's Office.

Last Updated 1997 May 15

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