Fall 2014 Department News

Get to Know a Staff Scientist: Erich Karkoschka

Senior Staff Scientist Erich Karkoschka began his career at LPL in 1983 as a graduate student working with advisor Dr. Martin Tomasko. He defended his dissertation, "Saturn's atmoshpere in the visible and near infrared, 1986-1989," in 1990.

Erich has observed the giant planets and Titan on telescopes around Tucson and in Chile, and using the Hubble Space Telescope, in order to understand the structures of their atmospheres. From this work he determined the vertical and horizontal distribution of hazes, clouds, and methane, and refined the methane absorption spectrum in the process. Using Voyager 2 images of Uranus and Neptune decades after the fly-bys, Erich discovered a satellite (S/1986 U 10, later named Perdita) and revealed peculiar rotation of parts of their atmospheres. Before the launch of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft in 1997, he helped Martin Tomasko, the principal investigator of the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer, to optimize the instrument. After DISR collected data during the descent in Titan's atmosphere in 2005, Erich helped to interpret even the smallest anomalies in the data.

In his free time, Erich enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for astronomy with the public using his telescopes.