The Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos is a multidisciplinary institute of Penn State researchers dedicated to the study of the most fundamental structure and constituents of the Universe.
Penn State Prof. Stephane Coutu and graduate students Nick Conklin and Isaac Mognet were named in a NASA Group Achievement Award to the CREAM Science and Mission Support Team, in recognition of dedicated service and exemplary technical performance in support of the Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass (CREAM) scientific balloon mission. The CREAM instrument was flown by high-altitude balloon in 2004/05, achieving a flight duration record of 42 days in three circumnavigations of the Antarctic continent. A modified version of the payload was flown again in 2005/06 for a further 28 days. A third version is planned to fly in late 2007. The CREAM mission measures high-energy cosmic nuclei at the limit of direct detectability, in an effort to elucidate the origin of these naturally occurring particles with energies in excess of those in the most powerful human-built particle accelerators today.