Astronomy Rocket Lab tour

Astronomy Rocket Lab tour

The Penn State Astronomy Rocket Lab builds NASA suborbital rocket payloads for scientific investigation of astronomical objects while developing technologies for future NASA missions. We study the fabrication of X-ray diffraction gratings for use on NASA astronomical missions ranging in size from suborbital rockets to Explorer missions, to Probes and flagship missions. The process utilizes many micro- and nano-fabrication tools, most of which are located at Penn State’s Materials Research Institute nano-fabrication facility (which you can also tour!). Through these studies we have been able to fabricate and replicate large format, high-density, variable line spaced, blazed diffraction gratings for X-ray applications.

Our strategic NASA technology development efforts also involve the testing and qualification of reflection gratings for use in the X-ray. This involves diffraction efficiency testing at synchrotron facilities such as the Advanced Light Source at LBNL and the PTB beamline at BESSY II. Testing is also performed at X-ray beamlines such as NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center's Stray Light Facility and the PANTER X-ray Test Facility at Max-Plank Institute in Munich to quantify spectral resolving power. Our gratings are capable of high spectral resolving power and high diffraction efficiency over a large energy band with high efficiency per order.

Visitors to this lab will see various rocket parts -- including parts that have been in space -- technology development parts, videos of rocket launch and rocket lab facilities. Our graduate and undergraduate students will also be on hand performing research activities that include work in our cleanroom.

Logistical information

  • This tour will leave from the lobby of the Nittany Lion Inn for an 11-minute walk (rain or shine) on uneven ground to the facility.
  • Please dress accordingly for the weather.
  • To arrange transportation assistance, inquire at the check-in desk.
  • Our on-campus bus loops are free and ADA accessible, please view this map to see where the bus stops are. 
Monday, October 28th, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Add to Calendar
Meet Penn State rep in the lobby of the Nittany Lion Inn to walk to location.