Purdue in Space

Purdue Space Research Highlights

Giant Leaps for Mankind

Many Purdue professors and their students have been actively involved in research that furthers our reach in space while improving lives on Earth. Below is just a sample of their research. Visit the Purdue newsroom to learn more about our current research across the University.

Purdue is Space. We develop space shuttles and astronauts. Our students work at NASA. Twenty-three of our astronauts have been to space. We have walked on the Moon and the International Space Station. We will soon walk on Mars.

Lunar lava tubes

Lunar lava tubes

A multidisciplinary Purdue team, composed of scientists from the Colleges of Science and Engineering, are researching potential habitats for astronauts. One such study, coauthored by Jay Melosh, found a potential human habitat on the moon – lunar lava tubes. (Image by NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)


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Moon streaks

Moon streaks

David Minton is studying the long, bright streaks that reach out from craters on the moon. According to his research, they are much longer than they appear.


“The intense radiation and impact environment of space changes the composition of the thin upper layer of the moon over time, causing it to darken,” he says. “Just underneath that is fresher, brighter material. When a crater impact throws up ejecta, it splashes that material onto the surface, and that becomes a crater ray.” (NASA Image)


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Mars climate

Mars climate

Research by Briony Horgan and graduate student Sheridan Ackiss suggests a cold and icy climate for Mars’ early history.


“While a lot of people are using climate models, we’re coming at this from a unique perspective – what does the volcanic record of Mars tell us?” Dr. Horgan said. (Photo provided by Sheridan Ackiss)


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New stars

New stars

Supernovae can be so bright they outshine their host galaxies. They take months or years to fade away, and sometimes, the gaseous remains of the explosion slam into hydrogen-rich gas and temporarily get bright again – but could they remain luminous without any outside interference? That’s what Dan Milisavljevic, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, believes he saw six years after “SN 2012au” exploded. Photo credit: NASA, ESA, and J. DePasquale [STScl])


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