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Instrument Facilities and Laboratories

ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration Instrument Facilities and Labs

The School of Earth and Space Exploration is home to more than 40 instrument facilities and laboratories, led by our faculty in the Earth and space fields including geological science, planetary science, astronomy, cosmology, astrobiology, astrophysics, exploration systems design, and science education.

The instrument facilities and laboratories available to our faculty, research staff, graduate students, and undergraduates include:

100K and 10K Cleanroom Facilities

The School's home, the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 (ISTB4), contains laboratories and two spaceflight-certified cleanrooms for assembly and testing of instruments and spacecraft for missions beyond Earth. One cleanroom is rated at 100K (no more than 100,000 dust particles per cubic meter), the other is rated at 10K (no more than 10,000 particles).

The cleanrooms contain optical benches and vibration-isolated tables for assembling precision optical and mechanical parts for instruments and spacecraft. In addition, the 100K cleanroom also features a thermal vacuum test chamber (above) in which instruments and spacecraft can be tested under the temperature and vacuum conditions they will experience in space.

Eyring Materials Center

The Eyring Materials Center (formally known as the LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science) was established in 1974 to provide researchers with open access to sophisticated techniques for materials characterization and high-resolution electron microscopy. The Center supports materials analysis across a broad range of scientific disciplines, including physics; chemistry; biological sciences; earth/space sciences; and engineering.

The center houses three aberration corrected Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEMs) to image and analyze the chemistry and structure of materials at sub-angstrom resolution. The Center’s electron microprobe is capable of high-resolution imaging and is equipped with detectors that allow chemical analyses of sub-micrometer domains of solid materials. This instrument is capable of materials synthesis and characterization, including high T and P synthesis, electron microscopy, diffraction spectroscopy.

Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) Laboratory

The laboratory's mission is to conduct research in the general fields of quantitative secondary ion mass spectrometry. This includes research in ion source design, improvements in secondary ion transmission, alternate uses of the sensitive mass spectrometer, conventional SIMS analysis in earth and materials science, and to offer high-quality SIMS analyses to NSF-funded geoscience researchers.


Nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (NanoSIMS) Laboratory

ASU is home to a state-of-the-art NanoSIMS instrument, one of only a dozen in the United States. The NanoSIMS is a nanoscopic scale resolution chemical imaging mass spectrometer based on secondary ion mass spectrometry. It works based on a coaxial optical design of the ion gun and the secondary ion extraction, and on an original magnetic sector mass spectrometer with multicollection. ASU’s NanoSIMS can map elemental and isotopic distributions in samples with exceptional sensitivity and spatial resolution better than 50 nanometers.

Experimental Petrology and Igneous Processes Center (EPIC)

The Experimental Petrology and Igneous Processes Center is designed to study magma: how and why it forms, its composition and timescales, and the resulting consequences for planetary differentiation. Researchers in this lab study volcanoes and their magma source regions, conduct high pressure and high temperature experiments to simulate magma formation, and perform computational modeling of magmatic processes.

The lab facilities include two Kennedy-style end loaded piston cylinders with automated temperature controllers, a Boyd-England-style Rockland Research 250-ton piston cylinder with automated pressure and temperature controllers, a 10-ton Press for experimental capsule extraction, an Atmosphere Gas Mixing Furnace, a Lampert TIG welder, two Nikon SMZ18 Stereomicroscopes, a Nikon LV100 Petrographic Microscope with camera, Buehler & Struers Low Speed Saws, a Well-brand wire saw with diamond wire, and a Struers LaboSystem automated polisher.

Low-frequency Cosmology Lab (LoCo Lab)

The Low-frequency Cosmology Lab is designed to develop radio instrumentation and conduct astronomical observations to study the evolution of the early Universe and the first stars and galaxies. Current projects include The Experiment to Detect the Global EoR Signature (EDGES), which enables high-precision measurements of the smoothness of the all-sky radio spectrum between 50 and 200 MHz (6<z<30), placing limits on the global 21-cm contribution to the all-sky spectrum and the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) under construction in South Africa to enable the first detailed measurements of the redshifted 21cm power spectrum from reionization.

Telescopes, Instruments, and Other Observational Facilities

The School's researchers have access to a broad suite of world-class telescopes and instruments through the Arizona telescope system, along with access to national ground- and space-based facilities. The Arizona telescope system provides access to the 11 meter equivalent Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham, the 6.5 meter MMT on Mt. Hopkins, the 2.2 meter Bok telescope on Kitt Peak (all in Arizona), and the twin 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes at Las Campanas Observatories in Chile, along with several smaller telescopes. Time on these facilities is allocated through a single unified process for all three of Arizona's state-supported universities (ASU, U of A, and NAU). ASU is also a partner in the Giant Magellan Telescope project, under construction at Las Campanas in Chile.

These facilities have a large suite of state-of-the-art instruments, providing both imaging and spectroscopy at both optical and near-infrared wavelengths. Adaptive optics and interferometry are under active development for the MMT and the LBT, and will allow high angular resolution astronomy from Arizona mountaintops in the near future. SESE researchers can also apply for time on Arizona radio telescopes, notably including the 12 meter diameter millimeter-wave dish on Kitt Peak, and the 10 meter Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Observatory on Mt. Graham.

Computational and Theoretical Resources

In-house high-performance computing — anchored with the 5,000 core, 10TB RAM Saguaro cluster in which the School owns 25 percent — places our researchers at the forefront of numerical astrophysics. The School's scientists use the Saguaro cluster for numerical simulations with a variety of tools, including smooth particle hydrodynamics (the SNSPH and GADGET-2 codes) and adaptive mesh refinement hydrodynamics (the FLASH and PROMPI codes). These resources and tools allow us to study the formation and evolution of objects on scales ranging from 100 Mpc or more (a region larger than the local universe) to an individual neutron star (about the size of Tempe).

Laboratory and Instrument Development Resources

The Laboratory for Astronomical and Space Instrumentation (LASI) offers access to clean room space (class 1000K, 100K, and 10K, with over 3000 square feet per class). It also provides a fully functional optical testbed for QE, linearity and cosmetic testing of detectors over wavelengths from the mid-UV to the near-IR as well as hardware assembly and associated electronics integration. Proximity to the ASU Machine Shop (which has produced space-qualified hardware for Mars missions) offers quick custom machining and integration of pieces in instrument assembly.

Instrument Facilities and LaboratoriesDirectors

100K and 10K Cleanroom Facilities

Philip Christensen

Aberration Corrected Transmission Electron Microscope

Tom Sharp, Axel Wittmann

Accessory Minerals (Apatite, Zircon) IN-situ Geochronology/geochemistry lab (AMAZING)

Melanie Barboni


Ariel Anbar

Astrobiology, Molecular Biology, and Proteomics Lab


Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics Lab (CA&NDy)

Hilairy Hartnett

Center for Education Through eXploration

Ariel Anbar

Center for Meteorite Studies

Meenakshi Wadhwa, Laurence Garvie

Cosmogenic and Short-Lived Isotopes Lab

Arjun Heimsath

Dryland Ecosystems Lab

Heather Throop

Earth Surface Processes and Geomorphology Lab

Ian Walker

Engineering Flight Hardware Lab

Philip Christensen

Experimental Petrology and Igneous Processes Center (EPIC)

Christy Till

Experimental Volcanology Lab

Amanda Clarke

Eyring Materials Center Electron Microprobe

Tom Sharp, Axel Wittmann

GEOPIG Biogeochemistry Lab

Everett Shock

Group 18 Labs

Kip Hodges

High Pressure Diamond-anvil Lab

Dan Shim

Hubble Data Lab

Rogier Windhorst

Hydrogen Gas Loading Facility

Dan Shim

Hydrothermal Organic Geochemistry Lab

Everett Shock

Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology Lab

Meenakshi Wadhwa

John M. Cowley Center for High Resolution Electron Microscopy

Peter Buseck, Tom Sharp

Laboratory for Astronomical Space Instrumentation

Paul Scowen

Low-frequency Cosmology Lab

Judd Bowman

Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper Development and Test Lab

Craig Hardgrove

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Science Operations Center

Mark Robinson

Mars Space Flight Facility

Philip Christensen

Mission Operations Facility

Jim Bell

Multi-anvil Press Lab

Dan Shim

OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer Lab

Philip Christensen

Planetary Aeolian Lab

David Williams, Ian Walker

Planetary GIS Lab

David Williams, David Nelson

Planetary Surface Imaging Science Lab

Jim Bell

Planetary Surfaces Spectroscopy Lab

Jim Bell

Remote Sensing and Tectonic Geodesy Lab

Manoochehr Shirzaei

Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies

David Williams

Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry Lab (SIMS) / Nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry Lab (NanoSIMS)

Rick Hervig, Maitrayee Bose

Terahertz Instrumentation Lab

Chris Groppi, Phil Mauskopf

W.M. Keck Foundation Lab for Environmental Biogeochemistry

Everett Shock, Ariel Anbar, Meenakshi Wadhwa