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LPL has long been a leader in researching the small bodies of the solar system. Active research includes:
Two world-renowned asteroid survey programs: SPACEWATCH®, directed by Dr. Robert McMillan, claims a number of firsts in hunting for small bodies, many related to being the first to use CCD-scanning routinely; and Catalina Sky Survey, under the direction of Eric Christensen, has led the world in asteroid discoveries each year since 2005. Dr. McMillan has also been part of the Near-Earth Object portion of the WISE spacecraft mission.
The first American asteroid sample-return mission. OSIRIS-REx, with Professor Dante Lauretta as the Principal Investigator, was launched in 2016, arrived at asteroid Bennu in 2018, and will being its return to Earth in 2021.
Several groups active in meteorite research, led by professors Dante Lauretta, Tim Swindle, and Tom Zega.
Research into the orbital evolution of the main asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt, led by Regents' Professor Renu Malhotra.
LPL also has a long history of comet research, which continues with new and ongoing studies by Associate Professor Walter Harris and Professor Emeritus Uwe Fink.
Professor, Principal Investigator, OSIRIS-REx
Regents' Professor, Louise Foucar Marshall Science Research Professor
Director, Department Head
PTYS Graduate Student
Associate Staff Scientist
Senior Staff Scientist
Image Processing Lead Scientist, OSIRIS-RExSenior Staff Scientist
Associate Staff Scientist, OSIRIS-REx
Postdoctoral Research Associate
PTYS Graduate Student, Scientist, Photogrammetry & Image Processing
Research Specialist, Senior
Analyst, OSIRIS-REx Science Operations Planning