Department News

5000 NEO Discoveries for Catalina Sky Survey

The Catalina Sky Survey Team (CSS) reached an important milestone, and also discovered two highly unusual asteroids in the last few months. The milestone was that CSS discovered its 5000th Near-Earth Object (NEO). On March 31, CSS Astronomer Jess Johnson discovered NEO 2014 FS52 using the 60" reflector on Mt. Lemmon. According to CSS PI Eric Christensen, "This is a fairly ordinary NEO, but an extraordinary statistic!

Department News

5000 NEO Discoveries for Catalina Sky Survey

The Catalina Sky Survey Team (CSS) reached an important milestone, and also discovered two highly unusual asteroids in the last few months. The milestone was that CSS discovered its 5000th Near-Earth Object (NEO). On March 31, CSS Astronomer Jess Johnson discovered NEO 2014 FS52 using the 60" reflector on Mt. Lemmon. According to CSS PI Eric Christensen, "This is a fairly ordinary NEO, but an extraordinary statistic! Given that the overall NEO tally stands at 10,758, that means that CSS is responsible for 47% of all NEO discoveries, period." Coupled with the 813 discoveries by the Spacewatch program, that means that LPL astronomers have discovered more than half of all known NEOs.

While 2014 FS52 may have been “fairly ordinary,” two other CSS discoveries were anything but that.

In March, Senior Staff Scientist Steve Larson forwarded news that Catalina Sky Survey observer Rik Hill (Research Specialist, Senior) discovered the "crumbling" asteroid P/2013 R3. Hubble Space Telescope provided the likely first known observation of an asteroid breaking up through spin-up by the YORP effect: http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1405/

And on New Year’s Eve, observer Rich Kowalski discovered an asteroid that impacted Earth the next day. 2014 AA represented only the second time in human history that an object first observed with a telescope hit the Earth. The other, 2008 TC3, was also discovered by Rich, also at CSS. Incidentally, 2014 AA broke up harmlessly over the Atlantic: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/tucson-astronomer-spots-asteroid-before-it-hits-earth/article_82e97cd0-9b2f-5747-95ef-bb5cbb835c6b.html

2014 AP and Classified Staff Excellence Awards

Congratulations to Ken Domanik, recipient of this year's LPL Appointed Personnel Staff Excellence Award, and to Bertha Orosco, recipient of the 2014 Classified Staff Excellence Award!

Department News

2014 AP and Classified Staff Excellence Awards

Congratulations to Ken Domanik, recipient of this year's LPL Appointed Personnel Staff Excellence Award, and to Bertha Orosco, recipient of the 2014 Classified Staff Excellence Award!

Ken is Manager of the Electron Microprobe Lab; he has been with LPL since 1999, and previously won the AP Excellence award in 2002. Ken earned the award again this year because, as noted in the nomination, he “will do what it takes to make sure that the instruments are providing quality data” — the concept of “close-of-business” does not apply; Ken is often working late and early, including weekends. He has implemented cost-saving and fund-generating measures and troubleshoots and corrects instrument problems, saving service calls and downtime. Thanks to Ken's work and care, even the older 25-year-old instrument continues to provide investigators from around campus with high-quality data.

Bert is Administrative Associate for the LPL Academic Office, having been promoted this year from Administrative Assistant. Bert does it all and does it with a smile, going above and beyond (and rarely stopping to take a lunch break). She continues to build upon her own skills to improve processes and procedures that save the department time and money, keep us organized and on track, and get us reimbursed and fed. Some examples of this year's accomplishments:

  • doubled-up on duties to provide admin support for Tim in the absenceof his executive assistant;
  • learned to use and apply Drupal and FileMakerPro in order to maintain the web site;
  • trained on use of Panopto video capture and documented process;
  • became HOV certified to provide more service and flexibility for department;
  • volunteered to serve as Secretary for College of Science Staff Advisory Committee (CoSSAC);
  • supported a variety of special events that required research into policy and precedent, including logistics for the APR and for the upcoming Hawaii fieldtrip.

Great job, Bert and Ken!

 

Christa Van Laerhoven Graduates

Christa L. Van Laerhoven successfully defended her dissertation titled "Multi-Planet Extra-Solar Systems: Tides and Classical Secular Theory" on April 16. Christa began her career as a graduate student in 2008, with two years of support from a Canadian NSERC (National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Fellowship.

Department News

Christa Van Laerhoven Graduates

Christa L. Van Laerhoven successfully defended her dissertation titled "Multi-Planet Extra-Solar Systems: Tides and Classical Secular Theory" on April 16. Christa began her career as a graduate student in 2008, with two years of support from a Canadian NSERC (National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Fellowship. She was the recipient of a NESSF (NASA Earth and Space Sciences Fellowship) for 2012/2013 and 2013/2014. During her time as a graduate student, Christa also earned the PTYS Graduate Teaching Excellence Award (Fall 2011), and received a University of Arizona College of Science Galileo Scholarship in 2012. Professor Richard Greenberg was Christa's dissertation advisor. Christa will begin a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto in the summer of 2014.  Congratulations, Christa!

CSS and Planetary Resources to Crowdsource Asteroid Detection

LPL’s Catalina Sky Survey is providing data to Planetary Resources, Inc. in an effort to improve detection of NEOs. Planetary Resources is a private company committed to utilization of resources in space. The president is Chris Lewicki, whose LPL connections stretch back to his days as an undergraduate working with Bill Boynton’s group, and their advisory board includes LPL alums Tom Jones and Mark Sykes.

Department News

CSS and Planetary Resources to Crowdsource Asteroid Detection

LPL’s Catalina Sky Survey is providing data to Planetary Resources, Inc. in an effort to improve detection of NEOs. Planetary Resources is a private company committed to utilization of resources in space. The president is Chris Lewicki, whose LPL connections stretch back to his days as an undergraduate working with Bill Boynton’s group, and their advisory board includes LPL alums Tom Jones and Mark Sykes. More information about the collaboration is available here: http://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-and-planetary-resources-sign-agreement-to-crowdsource-asteroid-detection/index.html#.Uo7rzKUmzIY

 

The Art of Planetary Science

The Art Of Planetary Science: An Exhibition – bringing together the art and science communities to engage the public.

by Jamie Molaro

Department News

The Art of Planetary Science

The Art Of Planetary Science: An Exhibition – bringing together the art and science communities to engage the public.

by Jamie Molaro

On December 4, 2013, the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) presented The Art of Planetary Science: An Exhibition (TAPS). This was a one night art exhibition and competition displaying works of art inspired by planetary science, alongside works created from scientific data. The goal of the event was to build community between the local art and science communities of Tucson, and to engage the public together in celebration of the beauty and elegance of the universe. The event was conceived of and organized by LPL graduate students Jamie Molaro and James Keane,  with the assistance of Maria Schuchardt and other graduate student volunteers, as a voluntary outreach project.

The public often sees science as dull and boring. In reality, science is full of beauty, and the practice of creating scientific knowledge requires an enormous amount of creativity. The goal of the event was to give scientists the opportunity to show this to the public, by creating art out of science and their scientific data. These works utilized, equations, simulations, visual representations of spacecraft data, and images of extra-terrestrial rock and dust samples. Viewing these works of art alongside more traditional artwork inspired by those same scientific ideas provided the audience with a more complex, multifaceted view of the content that would not be possible viewing either alone.

Artists and scientists of all types and levels participated in the exhibition. Having a wide range of ability represented in the art, from professional to amateur, emphasized the community values, collaboration, and engagement that was central to the goals of the exhibition. Works were submitted by prominent local artists with galleries, art students, scientists and science students, amateur astronomers, and art hobbyists. While most participants were local artists and scientists, submissions were received from Northern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and even the UK. A wide range of mediums was also represented, including paintings, drawings, photographs, digital images, film, poetry, sculpture, textiles, and glasswork.

One powerful aspect of the event was the ability to reach out to many sectors of the community. The winners of the TAPS competition, as well as a dozen additional selected works, were featured at Craft Tucson and the Tucson Museum of Art’s Art on Tap: Art, Music, and Beer Fest the following weekend. This provided LPL and the TMA an opportunity to work together in engaging the public in art and science through cross promotion, and provided participating artists more than one opportunity to display their work. Prizes for the TAPS competition were sourced from local businesses such as art and book stores, as well as from private donors. This allowed these businesses and the contributing artists to actually participate in and collaborate with LPL in public engagement, which broadened the reach of the event beyond traditional attendance.

The inaugural TAPS exhibition was extremely successful, displaying over 150 works of art, from more than 70 artists and scientists, and drawing an audience of more than 300 art and science enthusiasts. The response from the art community was overwhelmingly positive. Many artists expressed their enthusiasm for exploring planetary science and astronomy as a theme, getting the chance to interact with and meet scientists, and having an additional venue (and audience) in which to display their work. The scientists who participated were equally as interested in seeing local art, meeting artists, and promoting the beauty of science.

The team has plans for a second Art of Planetary Science exhibition this fall, with the hopes that it can become an annual event. They expect this year to be even bigger and better than last! Pictures and details of last year’s event are at www.lpl.arizona.edu/art/2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OSIRIS-REx Presents 321Science

321Science produces fast-draw and other formatted videos to explain concepts in planetary science and promote communication about and public engagement in the mission and Solar System exploration.  OSIRIS-REx Presents 321Science posts entertaining videos about asteroid science and OSIRIS-REx mission information. Regular installments are posted to the OSIRIS-REx YouTube Page.

Department News

OSIRIS-REx Presents 321Science

321Science produces fast-draw and other formatted videos to explain concepts in planetary science and promote communication about and public engagement in the mission and Solar System exploration.  OSIRIS-REx Presents 321Science posts entertaining videos about asteroid science and OSIRIS-REx mission information. Regular installments are posted to the OSIRIS-REx YouTube Page.

Recent 321Science clips include:

Thanks to the 321Science team: Anna Spitz, Symeon Platts, Melissa Dykhuis, James Keane, Heather Roper, Zoe Bentley, Rose Patchell, Sarah Spitz, Ross Dubois, and OSIRIS-REx Scientists and Educators.

Major Support for LPL Field Trips from Laurel Wilkening

Department News

Major Support for LPL Field Trips from Laurel Wilkening

by Tim Swindle

Dr. Laurel Wilkening, a former LPL director, has made a bequest to LPL to fund the graduate student field trips for the long term. Laurel was one of the first faculty members hired when the Department of Planetary Sciences was formed in 1973. She was Department Head of Planetary Sciences and Director of LPL, from 1981 to 1983, then moved into the University of Arizona administration, eventually becoming the Vice President for Research. From UA, she moved to the University of Washington to become the Provost (chief academic officer), and later became Chancellor of the University of California at Irvine, before retiring to work with non-profit groups. While at UA, she was also instrumental in founding the Women's Studies program.

LPL has been having field trips to planetary analog sites since its inception. In the last three decades, Jay Melosh, Dave Kring, and Shane Byrne have all led many field trips, and several other members of the faculty have either led trips or assisted. The formal graduate student field trips have been ranked by alumni as one of the most important parts of their experience here, so as budget cuts came steadily in the last decade, LPL Director Mike Drake worked hard to find ways to continue to fund them. While we have established a less-than-ideal system that has provided some stability, Laurel's bequest means that the long-term future of the field trips is probably financially secure. In the (hopefully long) short term, we will continue to fund the field trips as we have for the last several years, and Laurel is helping us to have a trip further afield for next semester.

Laurel Wilkening (right), Martha Leake (left), and PTYS graduate students on a field trip in the Pinacates in the 1970s.

Dolores Hill Honored at White House

This June, Dolores Hill, co-lead of the OSIRIS-REx Target Asteroids! program, was honored as a White House Champion of Change for her "dedication to increasing public engagement in science and science literacy."

Department News

Dolores Hill Honored at White House

This June, Dolores Hill, co-lead of the OSIRIS-REx Target Asteroids! program, was honored as a White House Champion of Change for her "dedication to increasing public engagement in science and science literacy." Through her work at LPL, Dolores, a senior research specialist, has been sharing her love of science (and especially meteorites) for 32 years.

Take a moment to read more about Dolores and her outstanding work promoting citizen science:

Kuiper Papers Indexed Online

The papers of LPL's founder, Dr. Gerard P. Kuiper, have been indexed online by the University of Arizona Special Collections Library. The index is available at:

http://speccoll.library.arizona.edu/collections/gerard-p-kuiper-papers

Department News

Kuiper Papers Indexed Online

The papers of LPL's founder, Dr. Gerard P. Kuiper, have been indexed online by the University of Arizona Special Collections Library. The index is available at:

http://speccoll.library.arizona.edu/collections/gerard-p-kuiper-papers

This finding aid is an excellent resource for scientists and historians and provides fascinating insight into the life and career of one of the pioneers of planetary science.

 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Department News