Spring 2014 Edition

Welcome to the Spring 2014 newsletter from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. It’s been a busy spring, with the normal extraordinary goings-on—Catalina Sky Survey found another asteroid just before it hit Earth, the OSIRIS-REx mission passed its Critical Design Review, and the HiRISE mission just keeps turning out spectacular images of the surface of Mars. But we also keep working to bring in new people and fresh ideas—Christopher Hamilton and Gilda Ballester joined the LPL faculty, we have a faculty search going in the multi-departmental Theoretical Astrophysics Program, and we’ve gone through an Academic Program Review to try to figure out how we can move on to even greater accomplishments (hopefully, you’ll hear the results of the latter two in the next newsletter).

We’ve got links to a lot of interesting news items relating to the science we do, and to the various awards that our talented graduate students keep winning (of note, Juan Lora won the department’s prestigious Kuiper Award and Ali Bramson won the College of Science’s Graduate Teaching Award). But we also have links to stories about things we do that aren’t exactly science. The graduate students (led by Jamie Molaro and James Keane) put on a spectacularly successful “Art of Planetary Science” art show, our building hosted the roll-out of “Orbiting Ray Bradbury’s Mars,” a book consisting of essays about science-fiction author Ray Bradbury (edited by LPL Kuiper Circle regular Gloria McMillan, spouse of Spacewatch director Bob McMillan), and the OSIRIS-REx team has started posting a set of videos called “321Science” on YouTube (I knew they were good when I realized I’d told someone about an “entertaining video about the Yarkovsky Effect”). And somewhere in the middle, between pure public outreach and pure science, Catalina Sky Survey is working with Planetary Resources Inc. (a company with Chris Lewicki, whose ties to LPL go back 20 years, as president) to crowdsource asteroid detection.

The bottom line is that LPL is a fantastic organization, full of people with a myriad of talents (some even show up on YouTube for their exploits at baseball games). Enjoy finding out what’s been going on with the LPL family, and if you haven’t been mentioned recently, let us know what’s happening in your life and career.

Timothy D. Swindle, Ph.D.
Department Head and Laboratory Director