CSR Research

The Center for Space Research is a world-renowned institution melding engineering, space and Earth sciences. For more than four decades, CSR has been at the forefront of geodesy and celestial mechanics, and has provided extraordinary expertise and leadership in orbit determination, remote sensing, and computational methods.

Celestial Mechanics and Astrodynamics

Research at CSR applies the principles of physics to the precise determination, prediction, and optimization of trajectories in space. Activities include the characterization of the motions of the Earth, Moon, and other celestial objects, as well as of rockets and artificial satellites, both terrestrial and interplanetary. Applications include precision determination of spacecraft orbit and attitude dynamics, mission trajectory design and operations from launch and navigation to re-entry and landing.

Data Exploration: Models, Algorithms and Error Analysis

CSR research centers on the use of large global-scale data sets to solve complex and computationally challenging problems and to address open-ended questions demanding advanced and innovative approaches. Using some of the world’s most powerful high performance computers, CSR has developed and employed innovations in advanced high-performance modeling, estimation techniques, pioneering statistical methods and error analyses.

Space Geodesy

CSR is a globally-recognized leader in the measurement and representation of the Earth and other celestial objects, including gravitational fields in a three-dimensional time-varying space for positioning, navigation, and observing geodynamical phenomena. Resident capabilities encompass coordinate systems, control networks and control techniques for studying oceanography, hydrology, and geophysics.

Mission & Data Architecture, Design and Simulation

CSR routinely contributes to space mission design initiatives its expertise in satellite navigation, attitude and scientific payload hardware configuration, simulation and testing, space and ground system implementation, data products design, hardware and software networking configuration, and delivery and verification of onboard navigation software and models.


CSR has conducted research with the national GPS, and more generally the global GNSS, since the inception of both. Current research in this domain includes precision and opportunistic navigation, navigation system protection, the design of software-defined receivers and other technology innovations, and the study of the ionosphere and neutral atmosphere.

Remote Sensing

Since the 1970s, CSR has been deeply involved in the science and art of identifying, observing, and measuring planetary topography from afar. CSR’s altimetry expertise began with early satellite radar altimeters and continues through more recent American and European missions. CSR is also at the forefront of both airborne and space-borne laser altimetry (LIDAR) systems and system design.

Satellite Technology

Mission planning and associated hardware development has long been an important research thrust at CSR. CSR’s expertise includes spacecraft planning and design, launch, GN&C (guidance, navigation, and control), operations, and decommissioning/closeout. In 2002, with the goal of inspiring students through hands-on participation, the UT Satellite Design Laboratory (SDL) was founded to provide students with an end-to-end experience of space technology and mission operations.

Scientific Interpretation and Analysis

Results of CSR’s research provide solutions to questions associated with many disciplines and cross-disciplinary fields including fisheries and aquaculture, agriculture, weather forecasting, environmental impacts of oil spills, oil exploration and drilling operations, mapping ocean circulation, sea-level rise and ice sheet decline, and significantly improved models of the Earth’s gravity field.

CSR continually strives to expand and deepen its contributions towards addressing complex scientific challenges, such as quantifying sea level rise and ice cap melt, monitoring global water storage processes, developing innovative GPS/location-based applications, fabricating small satellites, and pushing each new supercomputer to its limits.