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UNM expands its horizons in space research with new projects

October 3, 2023 - by Kim Delker

The race for space is alive and well at the UNM School of Engineering, bolstered recently by two new congressionally mandated multi-million-dollar projects.

Christos Christodoulou, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of COSMIAC, is the principal investigator on a $5 million initiative focusing on 6G satellite technology.

The initiative aims to advance 6G satellite technology to provide low-latency, high-speed connectivity to remote areas. It includes designing advanced satellite antennas, enhancing measurement capabilities up to 1.1 THz, and establishing a laboratory using software-defined radio principles. Research areas span machine learning, metamaterials, reconfigurable intelligent surfaces, and counter-cyber strategies to protect space-based assets from cyber and RF threats.

And Edl Schamiloglu, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the principal investigator on a $5 million initiative that seeks to grow the Directed Energy Center at UNM (DEC@UNM).

DEC@UNM was established in October 2021, supported by a FY21 congressionally mandated initiative. Schamiloglu leads the directed energy (DE) microwave portion of the research portfolio, and Professor Ganesh Balakrishnan in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering leads the DE laser portion.

DEC@UNM is aligned with research activities of the Directed Energy Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base and seeks to expand the DE ecosystem in New Mexico and regionally. New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich is the founder of the Congressional Directed Energy Caucus.

“This research is important, as it is aligned with the mission of the New Mexico Space Valley Coalition and UNM’s Sustainable Space Research Grand Challenge area,” Schamiloglu said.

The New Mexico Space Valley Coalition meets a national imperative to grow the commercial space industry, with an unmatched, holistic approach to space accessibility, commercialization, and exploration. The New Mexico Space Valley Coalition is one of the finalists for a National Science Foundation Engines award. NSF Engines will enable this cross-sector coalition to level up the impact of current and new initiatives – rapidly accelerating local growth while driving competitive advantage for the nation.