Small Bodies

Small Bodies

    LPL has long been a leader in researching the small bodies of the solar system. Active research includes:

    • Two world-renowned groundbased asteroid survey programs: SPACEWATCH®, directed by Dr. Melissa Brucker, claims a number of firsts in hunting for small bodies, many related to being the first to use CCD-scanning routinely; and Catalina Sky Survey, under the direction of Eric Christensen, has led the world in asteroid discoveries each year since 2005.
    • The first American asteroid sample-return mission. OSIRIS-REx, with Professor Dante Lauretta as the Principal Investigator, was launched in 2016, arrived at asteroid Bennu in 2018, began its return to Earth in 2021, and is on track for Fall 2023 delivery.
    • The OSIRIS-APEX mission, led by Assistant Professor Dani DellaGiustina, will reprise the discoveries of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at a second asteroid, Apophis.
    • Several groups active in meteorite research, led by professors Jessica Barnes, Pierre HaenecourDante Lauretta, and Tom Zega.
    • Research into the orbital evolution of the main asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt, led by Regents Professor Renu Malhotra.
    • LPL also has a long history of comet research, which continues with new and ongoing studies by Professor Walter Harris and Professor Emeritus Uwe Fink.

    Small Bodies Faculty

    Erik Asphaug

    Professor

    Lunar Studies, Planetary Analogs, Planetary Geophysics, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies, Theoretical Astrophysics, Titan & Outer Solar System

    William Boynton

    Professor Emeritus

    Astrobiology, Cosmochemistry, Lunar Studies, Small Bodies

    Dani Mendoza DellaGiustina

    Assistant Professor, Deputy Principal Investigator, OSIRIS-REx, Principal Investigator, OSIRIS-APEX

    Earth, Planetary Analogs, Planetary Geophysics, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies

    Uwe Fink

    Professor Emeritus

    Small Bodies

    Pierre Haenecour

    Assistant Professor

    Astrobiology, Cosmochemistry, Planetary Astronomy, Small Bodies

    Walter Harris

    Professor

    Planetary Astronomy, Planetary Atmospheres, Small Bodies, Solar and Heliospheric Research

    Ellen Howell

    Research Professor

    Small Bodies

    Dante Lauretta

    Director, Arizona Astrobiology Center, Principal Investigator, OSIRIS-REx, Regents Professor

    Astrobiology, Cosmochemistry, Small Bodies

    Renu Malhotra

    Louise Foucar Marshall Science Research Professor, Regents Professor

    Astrobiology, Exoplanets, Orbital Dynamics, Planetary Formation and Evolution, Small Bodies, Theoretical Astrophysics

    Angela Marusiak

    Assistant Research Professor

    Lunar Studies, Planetary Analogs, Planetary Geophysics, Small Bodies, Titan & Outer Solar System

    Robert (Bob) McMillan

    Research Professor (Retired)

    Asteroid Surveys, Planetary Astronomy, Small Bodies

    Michael Nolan

    Deputy Principal Investigator, OSIRIS-APEX, Research Professor

    Small Bodies

    Vishnu Reddy

    Professor

    Cosmochemistry, Planetary Astronomy, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies, Space Situational Awareness

    Timothy Swindle

    Professor Emeritus

    Cosmochemistry, Lunar Studies, Small Bodies, Theoretical Astrophysics

    Tom Zega

    Professor

    Astrobiology, Cosmochemistry, Small Bodies

    Small Bodies Researchers

    Namya Baijal

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Planetary Geophysics, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies

    Adam Battle

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Asteroid Surveys, Small Bodies, Space Situational Awareness

    Jacob Bernal

    DCC Postdoctoral Research Associate (Zega), NSF Postdoctoral Fellow

    Astrobiology, Cosmochemistry, Small Bodies

    Melissa Brucker

    Principal Investigator, Spacewatch, Research Scientist

    Asteroid Surveys, Small Bodies

    David Cantillo

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Astrobiology, Small Bodies, Space Situational Awareness

    Rishi Chandra

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Earth, Lunar Studies, Planetary Analogs, Planetary Geophysics, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies

    Laura Chaves

    Postdoctoral Research Associate

    Cosmochemistry, Small Bodies

    Matthew Chojnacki

    DCC Associate Research (McEwen)

    Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies

    Jason Corliss

    Research Scientist/Senior Staff Scientist

    Planetary Astronomy, Planetary Atmospheres, Small Bodies, Solar and Heliospheric Research

    Samuel Crossley

    Researcher/Scientist

    Cosmochemistry, Planetary Analogs, Planetary Formation and Evolution, Small Bodies

    Adeene Denton

    Postdoctoral Research Associate

    Planetary Geophysics, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies, Titan & Outer Solar System

    Ruby Fulford

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Astrobiology, Planetary Geophysics, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies, Titan & Outer Solar System

    Carson Fuls

    Director, Catalina Sky Survey, PTYS Graduate Student

    Asteroid Surveys, Small Bodies

    Devin Hoover

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Small Bodies

    Kana Ishimaru

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Cosmochemistry, Small Bodies

    Steve Larson

    Research Scientist/Senior Staff Scientist

    Asteroid Surveys, Small Bodies

    Cassandra Lejoly

    Research Scientist/Observer, Spacewatch

    Small Bodies

    Kiana McFadden

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies

    Robert Melikyan

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Orbital Dynamics, Small Bodies

    Samuel Myers

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Small Bodies

    Stephen Schwartz

    DCC Associate Staff Scientist (Asphaug)

    Orbital Dynamics, Planetary Astronomy, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies, Space Situational Awareness

    Sarah Sutton

    Photogrammetry Program Lead, HiRISE, Researcher/Scientist

    Earth, Lunar Studies, Planetary Analogs, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies

    Harry Tang

    PTYS Graduate Student

    Planetary Geophysics, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies

    Small Bodies Support Staff

    Dolores Hill

    Research Specialist, Senior

    Cosmochemistry, Small Bodies