United States Air Force Academy

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Dr. Matthew McHarg

Director, Space Physics and Atmospheric Research Center

Department of Physics

Official photo of Dr. Mcharg (DFP)
Contact Information

(719) 333-2460



Doctor of Philosophy, Physics, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska (1993)

Master of Science, Engineering Physics, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio (1983)

Bachelor of Science, Physics, Missouri Southern State College, Joplin, Missouri (1980)

Professional Experience

Director, Space Physics and Atmospheric Research Center, US Air Force Academy, Colorado (2003-Present)

Assistant Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado (1993-2003)

Honors & Awards

Frank J. Seiler Research Award for excellence in Basic Research (2012)

NASA Engineering and Safety Center Group Achievement Award for the Stardust Hyper-velocity Entry Observing Campaign, (2006)

Outstanding Academy Educator, Department of Physics, U.S. Air Force Academy (1995)

Research and Scholarly Interests

Development of miniaturized payloads for small satellites

Dynamics of Auroral Precipitation

High Speed Photometry of Sprites

Joule Heating Effects on the Thermosphere


McHarg, G., Neal, P., Taormina, N., Strom, A. and Balthazor, R., “USAFA integrated miniaturized electrostatic analyzer (iMESA)An undergraduate space weather constellation”. Space Weather, 13(12), pp.827-830 (2015)

Enloe, C.L., Amatucci, W.E., McHarg, M.G. and Balthazor, R.L., “Screens versus microarrays for ruggedized retarding potential analyzers”. Review of Scientific Instruments, 86(9), p.093302 (2015)

Balthazor, R.L., M. G. McHarg, C. L. Enloe, B. M. Muller, D. J. Barnhart, Z. W. Hoener, Robert Brown, Ludger Scherliess, Lance T. Wilhelm (2015). Methodology of evaluating the science benefit of various satellite/ sensor constellation orbital parameters to an assimilative data forecast model. Radio science. 50:4, doi 10.1002/2014RS005426.

Enloe C.L., W.E. Amatucci, M.G. McHarg, and R.L. Balthazor (2015), Screens versus microar-rays for ruggedized retarding potential analyzers, Review of Scientific Instruments, 86, 093302, doi: 10.1063/1.4929532.

R.G. Michell, M.G. McHarg, M. Samara, and D.L. Hampton (2012), Spectral analysis of fickering aurora, J. Geophys. Res., 117, A03321, doi:10.1029/2011JA016703.

Balthazor, R.L., McHarg, M.G., Godbold, C.S., Barnhart, D.J. and Vladimirova, T., “Distributed space-based ionospheric multiple plasma Sensor networks” IEEE Aerospace conference, pp. 1-10 (March 2009)

McHarg M. G., H. C. Stenbaek-Nielsen, T. Kammae (2007), Observations of streamer formation in sprites, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L06804, doi:10.1029/2006GL027854.

McHarg M., F. Chun, D. Knipp, G. Lu, B. Emery, A. Ridley (2005), High-latitude Joule heating response to IMF inputs, J. Geophys. Res., 110, A08309, doi:10.1029/2004JA010949.