The Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science & Technology (CRESST II), a five-year, $87.5 million cooperative agreement with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has been awarded to the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and their three partners: the Catholic University of America, Howard University and the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA).

First created as CRESST with an initial ten-year cooperative agreement in 2006, CRESST II will continue to facilitate collaborations between researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and space scientists from CRESST II partner institutions. CRESST II’s science priorities will be to carry out observational, experimental and theoretical research in support of NASA Goddard’s Sciences and Exploration Directorate, including the study of the solar system, stars, galaxies and the universe at large.

“SURA is excited to partner with these universities in administering an important program for NASA. With the current work we do for DOE’s Office of Science, NOAA, and the NSF, we are proud to extend our wings into the important science being performed for our space mission,” said Jerry P. Draayer, President & CEO of SURA.

SURA will act as the lead institution in recruiting and attracting visiting scientists and sabbatical researchers to enable and facilitate NASA Goddard collaborations with the greater scientific community. SURA will also administer the CRESST II summer internship program, visiting scientist and student visa programs, program travel and consulting, and will facilitate scientific colloquia, workshops, conferences and other Special Program support. Draayer will serve on the CRESST II Advisory Board and Janette Stout, SURA Director or Administration and Human Resource Services will serve on the CRESST II Management Council.

As a part of its mission, CRESST II will work to increase the involvement of minority and women scientists in space science research and to facilitate undergraduate and graduate student participation in active research projects.

CRESST II will continue to support access to critical space science data archives and the analysis of data from current and past NASA missions. CRESST II scientists will be involved in the construction and testing of instrumentation for missions, the planning of future missions and the development of new technology to enable future missions. The close association between NASA Goddard and the CRESST II partner institutions will enhance STEM education and diversity, creating opportunities to train a new generation of leaders in space science.

Going forward, CRESST II will work to achieve NASA’s strategic goals in space science while building on the capabilities and strengths of each partner institution. By combining NASA Goddard’s expertise and infrastructure with the educational capacity and demographic reach of partner institutions, CRESST II will provide unique opportunities for students and early career space scientists to be involved in active research and instrument development projects.

Over the past decade, CRESST—the predecessor to CRESST II—enabled university scientists and students to be involved in NASA missions including the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission and the Cassini Mission to Saturn.