Miles Research Lab

Experimental space physics and spaceflight instrumentation

NASA Administrator Visit


MAGIC patch


This project involves building a fluxgate magnetometer as part of the TRACERS mission. 




ACES-II Miles Uiowa


This mission will launch two rockets into an aurora to measure the interaction between solar magnetic particles and the Earth’s magnetic field.The rockets will be launched in Andøya, Norway in 2021.


ICI 5 mission


Investigation of Cusp Irregularities-5

The ICI-5 mission launched on a NASA sounding rocket from a Norwegian launch site  on Nov. 26. The mission hopes to further investigate Earth's polar cusps.



The ICI-4 Rocket as it lifts off from Andøya. Photo: Trond Abrahamsen, Andøya Space Center


Investigation of Cusp Irregularities-4

The combination of American electron clouds and Norwegian northern lights spells trouble for navigation and communication in the Northern regions. The ICI-4 mission helped provide knowledge to predict the weather in space.


Ex-Alta 1 CubeSat

This CubeSat collects information on space weather with the help of a miniaturized version of a science instrument called a magnetometer, an essential tool for studying solar storms.


CABOOM testing


CubeSat Articulated Boom Option Optimization in Microgravity

Booms are used to keep magnetic field instruments at a distance from the rocket or satellite. Booms are small and need to be tested in microgravity.

Cassiope logo


Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe

The Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe (e‑POP) is a research payload on the CASSIOPE spacecraft that is collecting new data on space storms and associated plasma outflows from the Earth’s ionosphere.

Hybrid Fluxgate and Search Coil Magnetometer

CHIMERA Hybrid Magnetometer

This project involves designing and building a magnetic field detector, called a magnetometer, that can operate on a new generation of satellites that are as small as a loaf of bread.


Experiential Student Learning

Andoya rocket

Sounding Rocket Field School

 Students took part in an intensive, international science program to design, build, and fly a sounding rocket.

Read more

Josh Larson

Undergrad Advanced Lab

Students learn physics through new or advanced experiments.

Go to PHYS:4750 for more info 

ISU balloon launch

Space Instrument Design Class

Students work in small groups to develop, build, and test a small instrument which will be flown to a 20-mile altitude on a meteorological balloon provided by Iowa State University.

See class description


Lab Equipment

magnetic furnace

Magnetic Furnace

This furnace is used to manufacture a critical space-instrument component called a ring core, which is central to the functioning of a fluxgate magnetometer, an instrument used for measuring low-frequency magnetic fields. 

Read more in this Iowa Now article.

vacuum test uiowa

Thermal Vacuum Test Chamber

Wide Temperature Range Vacuum Testing

The chamber is used to testing of spacecraft components under simulated environmental space conditions such as cold or high temperatures.

Chamber Specs


Scientists earn funding to build miniature magnetometer

Scientists at the University of Iowa have been awarded funding to create a magnetic field instrument small enough to be outfitted on mini satellites that would be launched into space.
Suman Sherwani in Forbes

Sherwani lands on Forbes list of celebrated young innovators

It’s been a whirlwind 12 months since Suman Sherwani graduated from Iowa. She’s working on NASA-funded rocket and satellite missions in the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy, and is featured on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for science.
CubeSat Articulated Boom Option Optimization in Microgravity

Physicists win NASA funding to build special apparatus for magnetic field sensors

David Miles, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded $199,999 from NASA to design and build a special mast that can carry magnetic field instruments outfitted for miniature space satellites.

TRACERS mission funded by $115 million grant from NASA takes next step

UI Physics and Astronomy Assistant Professor David Miles is developing a new magnetic-field instrument called MAGnetometers for Innovation and Capability (MAGIC). Miles said MAGIC will be a supplement, or an add-on, to the Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites (TRACERS) mission, which will strive to answer questions regarding space weather.  

Former Students

Josh Larsen uiowa physics

Josh Larson

Larson, graduated in May 2019 with a double major in electrical engineering and physics, built and tested instruments for space missions, participated in an intense, weeklong program building and flying a rocket in Norway, and created an experiment to help fellow undergraduates visualize and understand a branch of physics that involves hot, ionized gases called plasmas.

In fall 2019 Larson entered the graduate program in experimental plasma physics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Suman Sherwani uiowa Department of Physics and Astronomy

Suman Sherwani

Suman graduated with a BSE in electrical and computer engineering in December 2019 after participating in the Canada Norway Sounding Rocket program, an intensive, four-and-a-half-day international student exercise in Norway to design, build, and fly a sounding rocket toward the atmosphere’s outer boundaries. She is an Avionics Technical Project Manager at Rocket Factory Augsburg - RFA and was  featured on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for science.

Samuel Hisel

Sam Hisel

Sam worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Miles Lab before graduating with a BSE degree in Electrical Engineering. He is now a engineering associate in the Miles Lab.