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.
- 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 pmAdd to Calendar
- Meet Penn State rep in the lobby of the Nittany Lion Inn to walk to location.