LPL Newsletter for August 2022

Monday, August 1, 2022

The lead article in this month’s newsletter reports on the scientific papers describing the OSIRIS-REx sampling event, with a spectacular new animation showing how the spacecraft almost sank into the surface of the asteroid, like a toddler in a ball pit. 

The second article is a nice profile of the many UArizona contributions to the James Webb Space Telescope, particularly those by Regents Professor George Rieke, who holds a joint appointment in LPL and Steward Observatory. Many other LPL researchers, including Ilaria Pascucci, Daniel ApaiKacper Wierzchos, Sarah Moran, and myself, are also participants on active JWST programs. The first datasets on some of these programs are already in and are exciting. Look for more news on these programs in future newsletters.  

Finally, the third item presents an overflight video of the LPL camp in Iceland where Christopher Hamilton and his RAVEN project team are conducting field tests of rover and drone exploration of a striking planetary landscape. This field effort required extensive logistical planning, including the shipment of their robotic rover in a diplomatic pouch from Iceland. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what they all learned later this year.

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Illustration of OSIRIS-REx on surface of Bennu.

OSIRIS-REx Sampler Arm Sank into Surface of Asteroid Bennu

Particles making up Bennu's exterior act more like a fluid than a solid. Had the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft not fired its thrusters to back away immediately after grabbing dust and rock from the asteroid's surface, it would have sunk right into Bennu, and the asteroid might have swallowed it whole.

Mosaic of the visual grouping of five galaxies called Stephan's Quintet is Webb's largest image to date

JWST Reveals Hidden Universe

First observations from the James Webb Space Telescope tell the story of the hidden universe through every phase of cosmic history – from neighboring exoplanets to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, and everything in between. Dr. George Rieke, professor of astronomy and planetary science, is science team lead for the JWST Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).

Project RAVEN Update

LPL Associate Professor Christopher Hamilton is again in Iceland this summer, leading a team in support of his RAVEN project. RAVEN combines rovers and drones to explore landscapes that may otherwise be inaccessible, such as young volcanic terrains on Mars that are too rough for a rover to traverse.

See More from Basecamp

Read More about RAVEN