Connecting meteorites that have fallen onto Earth to their respective parent bodies in the Solar System is an important goal of planetary sciences. Chemical compositions that construct mineral structures are analogous to fingerprints: each are unique and reveal themselves through absorption features in the near-infrared.
The Reddy Research Group completes observational campaigns where groups of asteroid families are observed with the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF). As near-infrared observations are obtained, various data reduction protocols are followed to reveal spectral information such as silicate rock compositions and mineralogical compositions.
Asteroid spectral features are compared to laboratory spectral calibrations taken from various meteorite samples. Spectral features are compared to determine mineral relationships and abundances. Meteorites and asteroids can be linked through the quantities of specific minerals and chemical abundances.
The RAPTORS Spacejunk Hunting project is an undergraduate built telescope system that focuses on detecting spacejunk and satellites that orbit Earth. These two twenty-four inch telescopes hunt both in the day and in the night for the material that most closely orbits Earth. In some cases this debris that entangles the space just above Earth's atmosphere is toxic and potentially dangerous to space travelers and Earthlings alike.
Undergraduate engineer students from left to right: Lindsie Jefferies (Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics), Damon Marco Colpo (Optical Sciences and Mathematics), Sameep Arora (Mechanical Engineering), Evelyn Hunten (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Ryan Bronson (Optical Sciences and Mathematics).
The undergraduate engineer students constructed RAPTORS for their Senior Thesis project in 2016-2017. The students were able to build this size telescope at a fraction of a cost.
NEOCam (Near Earth Object Camera) is a single instrument that has extremely sensitive sensors at two different wavelengths of light in the infrared. This sensitivity allows the darkest of asteroids in the solar system to be detected. NEOCam is largely operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
NEOCam hunts for dark and dangerous near-Earth asteroids in the Solar System. Once large and potentially dangerous asteroids are detected, better characterizations can be made and therefore better models of their orbital actions can be established.
The Reddy Research Group uses NEOCam combined with the NASA IRTF to better understand and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) as well as near-Earth asteroids (NEAs).
Find out more about NASA's NEOCam.