United States Air Force Academy

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Dr. Francis Chun

Professor of Physics

Department of Physics

Francis Chun
Contact Information

(719) 333-2601



Francis Chun is a professor in the Department of Physics at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and Director of the Center for Space Situational Awareness Research. In his 34-year Air Force career, as a military officer and government civilian, Professor Chun worked on a variety of space-related programs to include the air-launched anti-satellite weapon system and space-based infrared missile defense systems. As a physics professor, Dr. Chun has taught many general and advanced physics courses specializing in the space domain. In his current role, he leads a team of faculty and cadets conducting satellite characterization research using small telescopes and developing the U. S. Air Force Academy’s world-wide Falcon Telescope Network.


Air War College (2001)

Air Command and Staff College (1998)

PhD, Geophysics and Space Physics, University of California, California (1992)

Squadron Officer School (Distinguished Graduate) (1989)

Master of Science, Geophysics and Space Physics, University of California, California (1987)

Bachelor of Science, Space Physics, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado (1983)

Professional Experience

Professor, Department of Physics, U.S. Air Force Academy (2004-present)

Program Manager, High Performance Computing Software Application Institute for Space Situational Awareness (HSAI-SSA), Maui High Performance Computing Center, Air Force Research Laboratory (2005-2007)

Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, Professor, Department of Physics, U.S. Air Force Academy (1995-2003)

Deputy Director, Test and Mission Operations, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB (1992-1995)

PhD Student, University of California, California (1989-1992)

Instructor, Department of Physics, U.S. Air Force Academy (1988-1989)

Master of Science Student, University of California, California (1986-1987)

Chief, Defense Systems Payload Analysis, 6595 Aerospace Test Group, Vandenberg AFB (1983-1986)

Honors & Awards

U.S. Air Force Academy Outstanding Scientist/Engineer (Senior Civilian Award) (2013)

Frank J. Seiler Award for Research Excellence at the U.S. Air Force Academy (1999)

Meritorious Service Medal, 2 Oak Leaf Cluster

Air Force Commendation Medal, 1 Oak Leaf Cluster

Air Force Achievement Medal

Research and Scholarly Interests

Space Situational Awareness, Astronomy


Gresham, K.C., C. Palma, D.E. Polsgrove, F.K. Chun, D.J. Della-Rose, and R.D. Tippets, “Education and Outreach Using the Falcon Telescope Network,” J. Acta Astro., Vol. 129, December 2016, pp. 130–134. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2016.09.006

Dunsmore, A.N., J.A. Key, R.M. Tucker, E.M. Weld, F.K. Chun, and R.D. Tippets, “Spectral Measurements of Geosynchronous Satellites During Glint Season,” J. Spacecraft and Rockets, 7 October 2016. doi: http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/1.A33583.

Tippets, R.D., S. Wakefield, S. Young, I. Ferguson, C. Earp-Pitkins, and F.K. Chun, “Slitless spectroscopy of geosynchronous satellites,” Opt. Eng. 54(10), 104103 (2015). doi: 10.1117/1.OE.54.10.104103.
Fulcoly, D. O., Kalamaroff, K. I., and Chun, F. K., “Determining Basic Satellite Shape from Photometric Light Curves,” J. of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 49, No. 1, DOI: 10.2514/1.A32002, January–February 2012.

McHarg, M. G., F. K. Chun, D. J. Knipp, G. Lu, B. A. Emery, and A. Ridley, High-latitude Joule heating response to IMF inputs, J. Geophys. Res., 110, 10.1029/2004JA010949, 2005.

Chun, F. K., D. J. Knipp, M. G. McHarg, J. R. Lacey, G. Lu, and B. A. Emery, Joule heating patterns as a function of polar cap index, J. Geophys. Res., 107(A7), 10.1029/2001JA000246, 2002.

Chun, F. K., and C. T. Russell, Statistical characteristics of field-aligned currents in the earth's inner magnetosphere, in Magnetospheric Current Systems, edited by Ohtani et. al., Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 118, 237-243, AGU, Washington, D.C., 2000.

Le, G., P. J. Chi, W. Goedecke, C. T. Russell, A. Szabo, S. M. Petrinec, V. Angelopoulos, G. D. Reeves, and F. K. Chun, Magnetosphere on May 11, 1999, the day the solar wind almost disappeared: II. Magnetic pulsations in space and on the ground, Geophys. Res. Lett., 27 (14), 2165-2168, 15 July 2000.

Chi, P. J., C. T. Russell, S. Musman, W. K. Peterson, G. Le, V. Angelopoulos, G. D. Reeves, M. B. Moldwin, and F. K. Chun, Plasmaspheric depletion and refilling associated with the September 25, 1998 magnetic storm observed by ground magnetometers at L =2, Geophys. Res. Lett., 27 (5), 633-636, 1 March 2000.

Gao, Y. F., P. J. Chi, G. Le, C. T. Russell, D. M. Yang, X. Zhou, S. F. Yang, V. Angelopoulos, and F. K. Chun, Sino-Magnetic Array at Low Latitudes (SMALL) including initial results from sister sites in the United States, Adv. Space Res., 25 (7/8), 1343-1351, 2000.

Russell, C. T., P. J. Chi, V. Angelopoulos, W. Goedecke, F. K. Chun, G. Le, M. B. Moldwin, and G. D. Reeves, Comparison of three techniques for locating a resonating magnetic field line, J. Atmos. Solar-Terr. Phys., 61, 1289-1297, 1999.

Chun, F. K., D. J. Knipp, M. G. McHarg, G. Lu, B. A. Emery, S. Vennerstrøm, and O. A. Troshichev, Polar cap index as a proxy for hemispheric Joule heating, Geophys. Res. Lett., 26 (8), 1101-1104, 15 April 1999.

Knipp, D. J., B. A. Emery, M. Engebretson, X. Li, A. H. McAllister, T. Mukai, S. Kokubun, G. Reeves, D. Evans, T. Obara, X. Pi, T. Rosenberg, A. Weatherwax, M. G. McHarg, F. K. Chun, K. Mosely, M. Codrescu, L. Lanzerotti, F. Rich, and P. Wilkinson, An overview of the early November 1993 geomagnetic storm, Journal of Geophysical Research, 103, 26197-26220, Nov 1998.

Chun, F. K., and C. T. Russell, Field-aligned currents in the inner magnetosphere: Control by geomagnetic activity, Journal of Geophysical Research, 102, 2261-2270, Feb 1997.

Chun, F. K., and C. T. Russell, The evolution of field-aligned currents as a function of substorm phase, Journal of Geophysical Research, 96, 15801-15810, Sep 1991.