Timothy Cook

Timothy Cook

Associate Professor

College of Sciences
(978) 934-4915
Olney Hall - 101B


Visible & ultraviolet instrumentation, Sounding rockets, Small satellites, Tomography & other novel data analysis techniques

Research Interests

Sounding rockets; Optical systems; coronagraphs; spectrometers; lidar; astrophysics; interstellar dust; exoplanets; debris disks.

Constructing novel instrumentation for a variety of focused investigations including: Ultraviolet investigations of astrophysical dust; LIDAR measurements of forests; Coronagraphic observations of exoplanetary systems; Ultraviolet studies of circumgalactic and intergalactic material.


  • Ph D: Astrophysics, (1991), University of Colorado - Boulder, Colorado
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: Far Ultraviolet Spectrophotometry of Hot Stars and Calibration standards in the FUV
  • BA: Physics, (1985), Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, Maryland


Professor Cook earned his doctorate from the Department of Astrophysical, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Colorado. During his graduate career he had the opportunity to construct his first sounding rocket payload and to fly it five times. He has been flying science payloads in space ever since.

After graduation he worked as a post doc at the University of California - Berkeley where he designed instrument for STUFF - the Solar/Terrestrial Ultraviolet Flight Facility - a sounding rocket designed to measure the interaction of the Sun and the Earth's upper atmosphere.  He then moved to Boston University where he worked on a number of sounding rocket and satellite missions.  He was program manager for the TERRIERS satellite, which was designed to study the Earth's ionosphere.  Using spare parts from that satellite he constructed the SPINR (Spectrograph for Photometric Imaging w/ Numeric Reconstruction) sounding rocket which measured dust in a group of stars called the Scorpius OB association and in the constellation Orion.  SPINR flew three times.  At BU he also helped to develop the SCARI (the Self Compensating All Reflective Interferometer) sounding rocket payload which used an interferometer to measure the properties of the interstellar medium as it flows through the Solar System.  In addition, he has been working to develop an Explorer mission to study ultraviolet light from the inter and circum galactic medium.

His latest projects include the PICTURE and IMAGER sounding rockets.  PICTURE (the Planet Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Rocket Experiment) uses an to image the debris disk around the star epsilon Eridani.  The experiment should eventually lead to direct imaging of the planet orbiting that star.  IMAGER makes a four color ultraviolet images in order study the creation and destruction of dust in the galaxy M101.

Selected Publications

  • Geddes, G., Douglas, E., Finn, S.C., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S. (2016). Inverting OII 83.4 nm dayglow profiles using Markov chain radiative transfer. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 121(11) 11,249–11,260.
  • E. S. Douglas, C. B. Mendillo, ., Cook, T., S. Chakrabarti, . (2016). Wavefront sensing in space from the PICTURE-B sounding rocket. 9904 of Proc. SPIE 99046A.
  • Cook, T., Wakker, B., Finn, S., Martel, J.F., . (2016). A suborbital experiment to study Circumgalactic Lines in Ultraviolet Emission (CLUE) (228: pp. 216.01).
  • S. Chakrabarti, C. B. Mendillo, , ., Cook, T., J. F. Martel, S. C. Finn, G. A. Howe, K. Hewawasam, and E. S. Douglas., . (2016). Planet Imaging Coronagraphic Technology Using a Reconfigurable Experimental Base (PICTURE-B): The Second in the Series of Suborbital Exoplanet Experiments. . Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation, 5 1640004–595.
  • Howe, G.A., Hewawasam, K., Douglas, E.S., Martel, J., Li, Z., Strahler, A., Schaaf, C., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S. (2015). Capabilities and performance of dual-wavelength Echidna® lidar. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, 9(1) 095979–095979.
  • Douglas, E.S., Hewasawam, K., Mendillo, C.B., Cahoy, K.L., Cook, T., Finn, S.C., Howe, G.A., Kuchner, M.J., Lewis, N.K., Marinan, A.D., Chakrabarti, S. (2015). End-to-end simulation of high-contrast imaging systems: methods and results for the PICTURE mission family (pp. 96051A–96051A).
  • Douglas, E.S., Martel, J., Li, Z., Howe, G., Hewawasam, K., Marshall, R., Schaaf, C.L., Cook, T., Newnham, G.J., Strahler, A., Chakrabarti, S. (2015). Finding leaves in the forest: The dual-wavelength echidna lidar. Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, IEEE, 12(4) 776–780.
  • Hicks, B.A., Chakrabarti, S., Cook, T. (2015). Interferometric nulling limits with tip-tilt-piston deformable mirrors and a pinhole spatial filter array. Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems, 1(1) 019001–019001.
  • Cook, T., Cahoy, K., Chakrabarti, S., Douglas, E., Finn, S.C., Kuchner, M., Lewis, N., Marinan, A., Martel, J., Mawet, D., others, . (2015). Planetary Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Recoverable Experiment–Coronagraph (PICTURE C). Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems, 1(4) 044001–044001.
  • Stephan, A.W., Finn, S.C., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S., Budzien, S.A. (2015). The Limb-Imaging Ionospheric and Thermospheric Extreme-Ultraviolet Spectrograph (LITES) on the ISS (1: pp. 10903).
  • Mendillo, C.B., Brown, J., Martel, J., Howe, G.A., Hewasawam, K., Finn, S.C., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S., Douglas, E.S., Mawet, D., others, . (2015). The low-order wavefront sensor for the PICTURE-C mission (pp. 960519–960519).
  • Oram, K., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S., Hicks, B. (2014). Characterization of the Performance of MANIC, a Monolithic Achromatic Nulling Interference Coronagraph (224:).
  • Danowski, M.E., Cook, T., Gordon, K.D., Chakrabarti, S., Lawton, B.L., Misselt, K.A. (2014). Enigmatic Extinction: An Investigation of the 2175Å Extinction Bump in M101 (224:).
  • Hewawasam, K., Maguire, R., Chakrabarti, S., Cook, T., Baumgardner, J. (2014). HiT&MIS: Instrumentation for Auroral and Ionospheric Airglow Studies (1: pp. 4000).
  • Stephan, A.W., Budzien, S.A., Finn, S.C., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S., Powell, S.P., Psiaki, M.L. (2014). Ionospheric imaging using merged ultraviolet airglow and radio occultation data (pp. 92220M–92220M).
  • Cook, T., Cahoy, K.L., Lewis, N., Swain, M.R., Finn, S.C., Mendillo, C.B., Chakrabarti, S., Martel, J., Douglas, E.S. (2014). Planetary Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Recoverable Experiment-Coronagraph (224:).
  • Mendillo, C.B., Douglas, E.S., Finn, S.C., Hicks, B., Martel, J., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S. (2014). Recent Contrast Measurements Made Using the PICTURE Visible Nulling Coronagraph (224:).
  • Douglas, E.S., Mendillo, C.B., Hicks, B., Cook, T., Martel, J., Finn, S., Polidan, R.S., Chakrabarti, S. (2014). Status of the PICTURE Sounding Rocket to Image the Epsilon Eridani Circumstellar Environment (224:).
  • Finn, S., Stephan, A., Cook, T., Martel, J., Chakrabarti, S. (2014). The Limb-imaging Ionospheric and Thermospheric Extreme-ultraviolet Spectrograph (LITES) (1: pp. 4091).
  • Schaaf, C., Paynter, I., Saenz, E., Li, Z., Strahler, A., Peri, F., Erb, A., Raumonen, P., Muir, J., Howe, G., Cook, T. (2014). Using the Rapid-Scanning, Ultra-Portable, Canopy Biomass Lidar (CBL) Alone and In Tandem with the Full-Waveform Dual-Wavelength Echidna® Lidar (DWEL) to Establish Forest Structure and Biomass Estimates in a Variety of Ecosystems (1: pp. 01).
  • Pallamraju, D., Baumgardner, J., Singh, R., Laskar, F., Mendillo, C., Cook, T., Lockwood, S., Narayanan, R., Pant, T., Chakrabarti, S. (2014). Daytime wave characteristics in the mesosphere lower thermosphere region: Results from the Balloon-borne Investigations of Regional-atmospheric Dynamics experiment. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 119(3) 2229-2242.
  • Hicks, B., Oram, K., Lewis, N., Mendillo, C., Bierden, P., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S. (2013). Direct imaging of exoplanetary systems with a monolithic multispectral camera (8864:). Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
  • Hicks, B., Danowski, M., Martel, J., Cook, T. (2013). High etendue UV camera for simultaneous four-color imaging on a single detector. Applied Optics, 52(21) 5194-5200.
  • Li, Z., Douglas, E., Strahler, A., Schaaf, C., Yang, X., Wang, Z., Yao, T., Zhao, F., Saenz, E., Paynter, I., Woodcock, C., Chakrabarti, S., Cook, T., Martel, J., Howe, G., Jupp, D., Culvenor, D., Newnham, G., Lovell, J. (2013). Separating leaves from trunks and branches with dual-wavelength terrestrial lidar scanning (pp. 3383-3386). International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS)
  • Yang, X., Schaaf, C., Strahler, A., Li, Z., Wang, Z., Yao, T., Zhao, F., Saenz, E., Paynter, I., Douglas, E., Chakrabarti, S., Cook, T., Martel, J., Howe, G., Woodcock, C., Jupp, D., Culvenor, D., Newnham, G., Lovell, J. (2013). Studying canopy structure through 3-D reconstruction of point clouds from full-waveform terrestrial lidar (pp. 3375-3378). International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS)
  • Mendillo, C.B., Chakrabarti, S., Cook, T., Hicks, B.A., Lane, B.F. (2012). Flight demonstration of a milliarcsecond pointing system for direct exoplanet imaging. Applied Optics, 51(29) 7069-7079.
  • Chakrabarti, S., Jokiaho, O.P., Baumgardner, J., Cook, T., Martel, J., Galand, M. (2012). High-throughput and multislit imaging spectrograph for extended sources. Optical Engineering, 51(1).
  • Hicks, B., Cook, T., Lane, B., Chakrabarti, S. (2010). OPD measurement and dispersion reduction in a monolithic interferometer. Optics Express, 18(16) 17542-17547.
  • Cook, T., Hicks, B.A., Jung, P.G., Chakrabarti, S. (2009). Far-ultraviolet astronomical narrowband imaging. Applied Optics, 48(10) 1936-1942.
  • Lewis, N.K., Cook, T., Wilton, K.P., Chakrabarti, S., France, K., Gordon, K.D. (2009). Far-ultraviolet dust albedo measurements in the upper scorpius cloud using the spinr sounding rocket experiment. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 706(1) 306-318.
  • Hicks, B., Cook, T., Lane, B., Chakrabarti, S. (2009). Monolithic achromatic nulling interference coronagraph: Design and performance. Applied Optics, 48(26) 4963-4977.
  • Stewart, J.B., Bifano, T.G., Cornelissen, S., Bierden, P., Levine, B.M., Cook, T. (2007). Design and development of a 331-segment tip-tilt-piston mirror array for space-based adaptive optics. Sensors and Actuators, A: Physical, 138(1) 230-238.
  • Lewis, N.K., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S. (2005). A study of far-ultraviolet extinction in the upper scorpius cloud using the spinr sounding rocket experiment. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 619(1 I) 357-367.
  • Lapington, J.S., Chakrabarti, S., Cook, T., Gsell, J.C., Gsell, V.T. (2003). A position sensitive detector for SPIDR - A mission to map the cosmic web. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, 513(1-2 SPEC. ISS.) 159-162.
  • Cook, T., Gsell, V.J., Golub, J., Chakrabarti, S. (2003). SPINR - A wide-field ultraviolet spectral imaging system. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 585(2 I) 1177-1190.
  • Stephan, S.G., Chakrabarti, S., Vickers, J., Cook, T., Cotton, D. (2001). Interplanetary H Ly observations from a sounding rocket. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 559(1 PART 1) 491-500.
  • Cotton, D.M., Stephan, A., Cook, T., Vickers, J., Taylor, V., Chakrabarti, S. (2000). Tomographic extreme-ultraviolet spectrographs: TESS. Applied Optics, 39(22) 3991-3999.
  • Kamalabadi, F., Karl, W.C., Semeter, J.L., Cotton, D.M., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S. (1999). A statistical framework for space-based EUV ionospheric tomography. Radio Science, 34(2) 437-447.
  • Bernhardt, P.A., McCoy, R.P., Dymond, K.F., Picone, J.M., Meier, R.R., Kamalabadi, F., Cotton, D.M., Charkrabarti, S., Cook, T., Vickers, J.S., Stephan, A.W., Kersley, L., Pryse, S.E., Walker, I.K., Mitchell, C.N., Straus, P.R., Na, H., Biswas, C., Bust, G.S., Kronschnabl, G.R., Raymund, T.D. (1998). Two-dimensional mapping of the plasma density in the upper atmosphere with computerized ionospheric tomography (CIT). Physics of Plasmas, 5(5 PART 1) 2010-2021.
  • Bernhardt, P.A., Dymond, K.F., Picone, J.M., Cotton, D.M., Chakrabarti, S., Cook, T., Vickers, J.S. (1997). Improved radio tomography of the ionosphere using EUV/optical measurements from satellites. Radio Science, 32(5) 1965-1972.
  • Cotton, D.M., Cook, T., Chakrabarti, S. (1994). Single-element imaging spectrograph. Applied Optics, 33(10) 1958-1962.
  • Alan Stern, S., Green, J.C., Cash, W., Cook, T. (1992). Helium and argon abundance constraints and the thermal evolution of Comet Austin (1989c1). Icarus, 95(1) 157-161.
  • Green, J.C., Snow, T.P., Cook, T., Cash, W.C., Poplawski, O. (1992). The anomalous extinction curve in the direction of Ophiuchi from 950 to 1180. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 395(1) 289-294.
  • Cook, T., Cash, W., Green, J.C. (1991). Far ultraviolet spectrophotometry of BD +28 4211. Advances in Space Research, 11(11) 29-32.
  • Green, J.C., Cook, T., Cash, W. (1991). Observations of B stars and Comet Austin from 900-1180. Advances in Space Research, 11(11) 25-28.
  • Green, J., Cash, W., Cook, T., Stern, S.A. (1991). The spectrum of comet Austin [4]. Science, 253(5018) 452-453.
  • Green, J.C., Cash, W., Cook, T., Stern, S.A. (1991). The spectrum of comet Austin from 910 to 1180. Science, 251(4992) 408-410.
  • Cash, W., Cook, T., Chambellan, C., Heyse, D., Hofmockel, D., Snow, T.P., Windt, D., Zaidins, C. (1989). A far ultraviolet rocket-borne spectrograph. Experimental Astronomy, 1(2) 123-143.

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Co-PIA Sounding Rocket Measurement (), Grant -
  • A Research Program for Ground-Based Round-the-Clock Observation of Auroral Emissi (2012), Grant -
    Cook, T. (Co-Principal)
  • CEDAR: HiT&MIS - Continuation of CEDAR: Quantitiative Assessment of Proton Aurora (2012), Grant -
    Cook, T. (Co-Principal)
  • The M101 Interstellar Medium Absorption Gradient Experiment Rocket (2012), Grant -
    Cook, T. (Principal)
  • UMass Lowell's Participation in Boston University's DWEL Program (2012), Contract - CMNWLTH SCI AND IND RES ORG (CSIRO)
    Cook, T. (Co-Principal)
  • Rocketborne Exoplanet and Debris Disk Imaging Experiment (REDDIE): Co-I (2012), Grant - NASA
  • Co-I: MRI: Development of a Dual-wavelength, Ground-Based, Echidna Lidar (DWEL) for Structural Characterization and Virtual Reconstruction of Forest Canopies (2009), Grant - NSF
  • Co-PI: Exoplanet and Debris Disk Imaging Experiment (EDDIE) (2011), Grant - NASA
  • PI: Interstellar Medium Absorption Gradient Experiment Rocket (2007), Grant - NASA
  • Co-PI: A Sounding Rocket Measurement of the D/H Ratio in the Upper Atmosphere of Venus and Relation the Historic Escape of Water (2008), Grant - NASA
  • PI: A Rotational Shearing Interferometer for Planet Detection (2006), Grant - NASA
  • Co-PI: SGER: Investigation of ESF Triggers Using Balloon-Based and Ground Diagnostics (2006), Grant - NSF
  • PICTURE sounding rocket: Co-PI (2004), Grant - NASA
  • Univ. PI: Designing UV Focal Plane (2004), Grant - Magnolia Opt.
  • Univ. PI: The Baryonic Structure Probe:Characterizing the Cosmic Web of Matter Through Ultraviolet Spectroscopy (2004), Grant - NASA / StScI
  • CRaTER Lunar Recon. Orbiter (2004), Grant - NASA
  • PM: CRaTER Lunar Recon. Orbiter (2004), Grant - NASA