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NASA pledges $87.5 million to continue research partnership with colleges including UMBC, UMD

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will spend $87.5 million over the next five years to continue a research partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and University of Maryland, College Park and to bring on additional partners, the universities announced Thursday.

Scientists from the participating universities will study high energy astrophysics, gravitational waves, space exploration and planets in the solar system at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, said T. Jane Turner, a professor of physics who runs UMBC's arm of the program.

The partnership between universities and NASA form what's called the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology, or CRESST II in its second phase.

The funding will continue opportunities for students to participate in NASA research projects while enrolled in the two Maryland universities. Newcomers in the partnership include Howard University, The Catholic University of America and a consortium of 60 research universities called Southeastern Universities Research Association.

CRESST began in 2006 with a 10-year cooperative agreement among the partners and NASA.

"This grant — and the important partnership it represents — will enable us to continue research that advances science and benefits our state and beyond," UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski said in a statement. "Moreover, it will create opportunities for students to prepare for careers by working alongside world-class experts."

tprudente@baltsun.com

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