/ Modified dec 11, 2023 4:16 p.m.

UA among schools claiming the mantle of "Space U."

A dozen U. S. colleges and universities are emphasizing their dedication to space science research.

AZSCI 307 space telescope James Webb Space Telescope

The University of Arizona is part of an ongoing debate over which school has the best space science program.

A survey based on NASA spending put the California Institute of Technology on top with Arizona only in the top ten, behind schools including the University of Colorado.

But Department of Astronomy head Buell Jannuzi notes the National Science Foundation ranks UA at the front of the list when it comes to research dollars from a variety of institutions.

"I think the reason we're number one on the NSF list and not as high as Colorado on the NASA list is that our portfolio is more diverse," he said. "It comes from not just NASA but DOE and lots of other agencies, while the NASA list is just NASA money."

Cal Tech's long-time association with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory also contributes to its high ranking. Jannuzi says UA has a lengthy track record in Astronomy and Astrophysics research that no other university can match. Arizona also gets high marks for developing technology and facilities for space science, including imaging systems for missions like the James Webb Space Telescope.

Sports fans argue the University of Houston and the University of Central Florida deserve the honor of "Space U." Both schools belong to the same athletic conference and each boasts historic ties to the U-S manned space program.

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