LPL Newsletter for May 2021

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Welcome to the May 2021 LPL Newsletter. This month's articles are bookended by two that demonstrate the life cycle of LPL and its projects. OSIRIS-REx took a fascinating image of the site where it grabbed its sample from asteroid Bennu; the spacecraft will be leaving Bennu on May 10. Meanwhile, Mark Marley will be taking over as director of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory—the eighth director in our 60-year history. In addition, we thought you might be interested by four articles that ran in the latest issue Arizona Alumni Magazine. These four articles span the activities of LPL, from the early days of Gerard Kuiper to recently-hired scientists and engineers, and highlight research ranging from spacecraft to telescopes to analysis of extraterrestrial samples to analysis of Earth analogues.

Contact us at PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOkhOWUNZQHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+SE5ZQ1lAeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg== if you'd like to subscribe to the newsletter.

Director and Department Head


Dr. Mark Marley

Director and Department Head

May 2021

Dr. Mark Marley joins LPL on May 17 as Director and Department Head. He is currently a Research Scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where he studies the atmospheres and interiors of planets and brown dwarfs. He is particularly interested in the intersection of planetary and exoplanetary science, a field he has been engaged with since the first discoveries of extrasolar planets.

Mark is originally from Phoenix and is a third generation Arizonan. Inspired by early planetary exploration missions like Apollo and Viking, he went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysics and Planetary Science from the California Institute of Technology and his Doctorate degree in Planetary Science from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at UArizona. He will be the first LPL Director to have graduated from the program. Before arriving at NASA Ames in 2000, he was an Associate Professor of Astronomy at New Mexico State University.

Mark is an author on over 250 scientific papers on topics ranging from the rings of Saturn to the atmospheres of giant planets and brown dwarfs to extrasolar planets of all types. Twice awarded NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, he is also a Fellow of the American Astronomical Society and has served on numerous panels advising NASA on future science directions and future large space telescope concepts. In his free time, Mark enjoys hiking and gardening with his wife, two daughters, and their dog.

Assistant Professor Jessica Barnes

Jessica Barnes, Celestial Detective

As a cosmochemist, she looks for answers to questions like: How did Earth become habitable? On what other planets might life be sustainable?

Christopher Hamilton and drone

Iceland, the Wildcat Testing Ground

Christopher Hamilton is developing a new concept combining rovers and drones to explore regions of Mars that have been previously inaccessible.

Carina Bennett in front of OSIRIS-REx mural

Mapping Bennu

UArizona alumna Carina Bennett remembers her first day working on the OSIRIS-REx mission. She found herself among space scientists with years of experience. It was rocket science, but she was a filmmaker.

Scientists Ewen Whitaker, Gerard Kuiper and Ray Heacock in front of a Ranger model and lunar hemisphere which is now located at Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium. / UArizona Lunar and Planetary Lab photo

Space is Wildcat Country

LPL has led the field in space exploration since its founding in 1960. We continue the journey of discovery with projects like OSIRIS-REx and testing Mars exploration drones in Iceland.

New Images: OSIRIS-REx Leaves its Mark on Bennu

New images of Bennu's surface captured during the final flyover reveal dramatic changes to the sample site.

Read More