2010 Kuiper Award to David Choi
Congratulations to David Choi, 2010 recipient of the Gerard P. Kuiper Memorial Award. The Kuiper award is presented annually to students in the field of planetary sciences who have excelled in academic work and research.
David enrolled in the Department of Planetary Sciences in 2004 after earning a degree in astronomy at Cornell University. Shortly after arriving at the University of Arizona, he began an investigation to track clouds in images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot taken by the Galileo spacecraft. This research led to the highest quality map of winds of the Great Red Spot that has been determined to date. The automated cloud tracking method that Choi used for this project laid the foundation for his thesis work on the meteorology of giant planets.
Choi's doctoral research focused on the atmospheric dynamics of Jupiter and Saturn, the two largest planets in the Solar System. Dr. Choi analyzed data from the Cassini Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer to determine Saturn's cloud structure. Data from this instrument allowed Choi to produce the first cloud-tracking results from this planet using infrared images, which probe the deep atmosphere of Saturn. Choi went on to combine data from the Galileo, Cassini, and New Horizons spacecraft to study the white oval storm features in the atmosphere of Jupiter. These features are enigmatic because they began to merge with one another between 1998 and 2000. The one remaining storm changed color from white to red, making for a true scientific puzzle. Choi showed that the color change was associated with a strengthening of the vortex winds, suggesting that the spot's redness had a dynamical origin. Choi is continuing his work as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Arizona studying hotspots in Jupiter's atmosphere.