The Michigan Engineer News Center

Universities’ crucial role in our spacefaring future

To ensure that our species endures, we must advance space-based technologies and break our interdisciplinary boundaries.| Short Read

By Tuija Pulkkinen and Anthony Waas

Space research and space exploration are vital to the future of humankind. The Earth may be resilient — it’s still here long after the dinosaurs, and it shows no scars from the Carrington solar storm that fried telegraph lines in 1859. But society on this planet is facing some unprecedented challenges.

Our dependence on technological systems such as power grids and satellite communication makes us more vulnerable than ever to solar storms. We should not forget that another significant asteroid collision is a matter of when, not if. And planetwide shifts such as climate change, ocean acidification and deforestation raise vital questions about how the Earth can continue to support the growing population.

These are just a few reasons why this is a pivotal time to take major steps in space-based technologies that can help us predict, adapt to, mitigate and protect ourselves from catastrophes or slower-occurring changes. They’re also good reasons to boost space exploration. To ensure that our species endures, we have a responsibility to develop our society to become a spacefaring one.

This article was published in Inside Higher Ed. Read the full article.

Idea Vanguards Fueled by You
Jessy Grizzle examines wires

We’re innovative. We’re problem solvers. We shape the world around us and the next generation of scientific and technological thought leaders. You can help.

Portrait of Zach Robertson


Zach Robertson
News and Communications Assistant

Michigan Engineering

1075 Beal Ave

  • Tuija Pulkkinen

    Tuija Pulkkinen

    Chair, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Department

  • Anthony Waas

    Anthony Waas

    Richard A Auhll Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read