Fall 2023 Newsletter

Catalina Sky Survey citizen science project nets a new asteroid, and it's a close one

Members of the public helped spot a previously unknown near-Earth asteroid on its orbit around the Sun.

Read More Join the asteroid hunt

IN THIS ISSUE  Fall 2023 Edition

Welcome to the LPL Newsletter!

Mark Marley, Ph.D.
Department Head
Laboratory Director

Welcome to the Fall 2023 LPL Newsletter! This has been an epic semester with the exciting OSIRIS-REx sample return and the arrival of Bennu samples at LPL. All of the excitement resulted in many news stories and events celebrating LPL and our scientists. Look for news about the first wave of science from the sample analysis campaign in the coming months.

In the last newsletter, I highlighted a new citizen science opportunity to support the Catalina Sky Survey by discovering near-Earth asteroids that the automated detection pipelines might miss. The first such asteroid has now been discovered by volunteers! It is somehow reassuring that the human eye still has a place in astronomical discovery. The volunteer program was developed by Carson Fuls, who in October assumed the role of CSS director. You can read a Q&A with Carson in this newsletter.

Speaking of asteroids, LPL has long played an important role in their science and discovery, as evidenced by the number (currently 244) of asteroids named in honor of our faculty, staff, students, and alums. The list includes many recognizable names (Kuiper, Gehrels, Matthews) that are inextricably linked to LPL and to space science. You can keep up with our expanding list of named asteroids online

A number of our faculty, students, staff, and alums have been recognized with awards in the last several months. Be sure to check out their accomplishments in this edition and also look for some great photos from this semester’s field trips. The Wilkening-Sill endowment enables these trips and we appreciate all of the donations that make these opportunities available to our students.

Long-time friends of LPL and alumni of the 1980s might remember the Mars Ball Project, a grad student led effort to develop a novel prototype Mars rover. I recently came across some Mars Ball materials that enabled us to add a Mars Ball page to our LPL history site.

Perhaps someday we will see such a device exploring Mars.

Photo of Zarah Brown standing behind solar system plaque.

Department News

Arizona Scale Model of the Solar System

Take a stroll through the solar system on the UArizona campus.

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Photo of Joe Giacalone

Faculty News

Joe Giacalone Elected AGU Fellow

Professor Giacalone was recognized for seminal contributions to our understanding of charged particle acceleration and transport throughout the interplanetary medium. 

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Photo of Galen Bergsten

Graduate Student News

Galen Bergsten Awarded IPAC Visiting Graduate Fellowship

Fourth-year Ph.D. student Galen Bergsten was selected for a six-month Visiting Graduate Fellowship at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center on the campus of the California Institute of Technology.

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Photo of Dale Cruikshank

Alumni News

Dale Cruikshank Wins Masursky Prize

Dale Cruikshank was awarded the 2023 Masursky Prize in recognition of his outstanding service to the planetary science community.

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