spring

Autumn Durfey is here!

LPL Associate Staff Scientist Veronica Bray and her husband Karl Durfey welcomed baby girl Autumn Elsie Durfey into the world on March 6, 2015. Autumn arrived at 7lb, 9oz. Veronica reports that, "she’s very easy going and smiley so far (phew!!!)." Congratulations, Veronica and Karl!

 

 

 

 

 

Department News

Autumn Durfey is here!

LPL Associate Staff Scientist Veronica Bray and her husband Karl Durfey welcomed baby girl Autumn Elsie Durfey into the world on March 6, 2015. Autumn arrived at 7lb, 9oz. Veronica reports that, "she’s very easy going and smiley so far (phew!!!)." Congratulations, Veronica and Karl!

 

 

 

 

 

WISE Honors Susan Brew, Kristin Block

Two LPL staff members were honored at the awards banquet for the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program this spring.

Department News

WISE Honors Susan Brew, Kristin Block

Two LPL staff members were honored at the awards banquet for the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program this spring.

Susan Brew, Program Manager for Arizona Space Grant Consortium, received the award for Excellence in Campus Outreach for STEMM Diversity. The award celebrates Susan’s accomplishments during her 25 years with Space Grant, a program that recruits a diverse group of undergraduates into research internships projects, and, for the last 10 years, at least, can boast a 98% graduation rate with 90% of the graduates moving into either the STEMM workforce or into graduate school.

Kristin Block, a Science Operations Engineer for HiRISE, was a nominee for the award for Excellence in STEMM Diversity, based on her work as a founding board member and vice president of Tucson Women in STEM, service on the STEM-ED Advisory Panel for Children and Family Resources for reducing teen pregnancy through after-school STEM activity involvement, and other activities including the LPL Women organization and serving as vice president of the UA LGBTQ Advisory Board. In a similar vein, Kristin was also nominated for the on-campus Peter W. Likins Inclusive Excellence Award.

LPL Asteroid and Meteorite Research Highlighted in Display at Rep. McSally’s Office

A display highlighting LPL’s work on asteroids and meteorites has been constructed by Dolores Hill and installed in U.S. Representative Martha McSally’s office in Washington, D.C. University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart officially presented the display to Rep. McSally on April 22.

Department News

LPL Asteroid and Meteorite Research Highlighted in Display at Rep. McSally’s Office

A display highlighting LPL’s work on asteroids and meteorites has been constructed by Dolores Hill and installed in U.S. Representative Martha McSally’s office in Washington, D.C. University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart officially presented the display to Rep. McSally on April 22.

The display includes models of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and its target, the asteroid Bennu, as well information about LPL’s asteroid surveys, Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) and Spacewatch, and a sample of the Almahata Sitta meteorite, which was discovered as an asteroid by CSS before impacting Earth the next day. There is also information about the planetary defense aspect of asteroid studies, with photos of the Chelyabinsk fireball and Meteor Crater, and samples of the resulting meteorites from each, and information about some other meteorites of local interest.

New Members for LPL External Advisory Board

We are pleased to welcome two more community leaders as new members of LPL’s External Advisory Board: Dr. Norman Komar and Dr. Xenia King.

Dr. Komar is a retired neuroradiologist who spent the bulk of his career practicing medicine in Tucson. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan, and his M.D. from Wayne State University. He has been a member of the UA College of Science’s Galileo Circle for several years.

Department News

New Members for LPL External Advisory Board

We are pleased to welcome two more community leaders as new members of LPL’s External Advisory Board: Dr. Norman Komar and Dr. Xenia King.

Dr. Komar is a retired neuroradiologist who spent the bulk of his career practicing medicine in Tucson. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan, and his M.D. from Wayne State University. He has been a member of the UA College of Science’s Galileo Circle for several years.

Dr. King has a B.A. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona, but her career has included everything from being a biostatistician for NASA to being the Head of New Business Development for the New York office of the RAND Corporation.

The External Advisory Board is designed to give advice on LPL’s interactions with the broader community on all sorts of issues, ranging from branding to development, and has been particularly active in assisting with outreach and with industry relations.

Spring 2015 Edition

Welcome to the Spring 2015 LPL Newsletter. As we finish off another academic year, there is, as always, lots to talk about.

The most exciting news is that Professor Renu Malhotra has been named a member of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors an American scientist can receive. For good measure, she also was named a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

spring

Spring 2015 Edition

Welcome to the Spring 2015 LPL Newsletter. As we finish off another academic year, there is, as always, lots to talk about.

The most exciting news is that Professor Renu Malhotra has been named a member of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors an American scientist can receive. For good measure, she also was named a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

The other big piece of faculty news is that two long-time LPL faculty members, Randy Jokipii and Rick Greenberg, are retiring over the summer. Rick has been at LPL for roughly a quarter of a century, but Randy has been here longer—he was one of the early hires when the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory added an academic component and the Department of Planetary Sciences was born.

In addition, our talented graduate students continue to accrue honors. Most notably, Jamie Molaro won the UA College of Science award for the most outstanding effort in public outreach, based on the very successful Art of Planetary Science event that she designed and organized. The College gives out one award each for Research, Teaching and Service each year—an LPL  grad has won one of those three each of the last four years, and the award-winners have been in all three categories, a testament to our students' performance.

We also have several items of personal interest involving the LPL family, ranging from births and graduations to just introductions to the people you might see in the hallway (if you work at LPL) or hear about from LPL friends (if you’re part of LPL’s extended family).

But perhaps the most impressive thing about LPL is still the work that is done here. This newsletter includes more than two dozen articles with an LPL twist from various news outlets, covering a broad range of topics. Reading those will give you some sense of the amazing range of interesting things going on at LPL, from flying kites in Hawai’i to study Mars to using “leftover” data from Catalina Sky Survey to study black holes. And because not every excellent paper generates a press release, you’ll have to use either your imagination or a database of the scientific literature to understand the full scope of the science that goes on at LPL.

Enjoy the newsletter, and as always, if you have news about you, your career, or your family, please let us know, so that we can pass it along to all the people who would be interested.

Timothy D. Swindle, Ph.D.
Department Head and Laboratory Director

LPL Fieldtrip Spring 2015: Canyonlands

by Shane Byrne

This semester, the LPL field trippers returned to a site previously visited on our fieldtrips several years ago—Canyonlands in southeast Utah. This national park contains many features familiar to planetary geologists such as graben (tectonically formed trenches where the floor has dropped in elevation) and an impact crater (although previously this was argued to be a salt diapir).

Department News

LPL Fieldtrip Spring 2015: Canyonlands

by Shane Byrne

This semester, the LPL field trippers returned to a site previously visited on our fieldtrips several years ago—Canyonlands in southeast Utah. This national park contains many features familiar to planetary geologists such as graben (tectonically formed trenches where the floor has dropped in elevation) and an impact crater (although previously this was argued to be a salt diapir).

Driving up to Canyonlands from Tucson takes a day in itself, but there was plenty to see along the route. We stopped at Walnut Canyon in Flagstaff to view some of the Colorado Plateau Stratigraphy and spectacular cross-bedding within the Coconino sandstone. Driving further, we passed through exposures of the Chinle formation and later Monument Valley, which all expose different portions of the enormously thick stratigraphic record within the Colorado Plateau. Hundreds of millions of years of history are on display here, containing chapters from marine environments and inland deserts. More recently, volcanic activity has been common on the plateau, some of these volcanoes have been removed by erosion and the vertical conduit through which magma and brecciated rock moved to the surface is often preserved. Agathla Peak in northern Arizona is one such feature (known as a diatreme) that we stopped to survey. The Plateau is no longer collecting sediments as it has been uplifted to great height. This uplift had other effects such as prompting previously slow-moving meandering rivers to erode downwards. Deeply incised meanders near the Arizona-Utah border are a testament to the uplift that has occurred here and the power of water to quickly erode though rock when the situation demands.

Our first stop in Canyonlands was Upheaval Dome, a circular structure with upward tilted layers at its center. The origin of this feature has been debated for decades. There is a thick layer of salt buried deep beneath Canyonlands. In similar locations (like Iran), this salt rises buoyancy through the rocks in a diapir and leads to circular surface features (circular features in Triton’s “cantaloupe terrain” are also thought to be due to icy diapirs).  Lately though, it’s been recognized that this is probably a heavily eroded impact crater. Certain types of fractures that we observed in the surrounding rocks require very large pressures to form, which can only realistically be produced during an impact event.

The next day, our group drove around to the southern entrance to the park. This is a little used access point through Beef Basin—little used because the roads in question are frequently impassible even to 4WD vehicles. One particularly notorious stretch known as Bobby’s Hole provided the biggest challenge, which luckily we navigated without significant incident. The reward for this rather arduous drive was to be able to drive through the Canyonlands Graben. This is a set of normal faults that allow blocks of rock a few hundred meters wide to drop downward and form steep walled trenches that we can drive through. We see graben on many solar system bodies where the surface is being stretched apart. In the case of the Canyonlands Graben, the surface rocks are being stretched because the Colorado River has eroded a deep canyon and the rocks to the east of this canyon (no longer buttressed) can now glide westward on the buried salt layer. Moving past the Graben, we stopped at the joint trail, where incredible examples of jointed rock are visible. The joints themselves are about 10 meters deep here and wide enough to walk through at the bottom. Indeed, they are wider at the bottom than the top as the lower rock layers are more easily eroded so that only a thin strip of sky is visible overhead.

Canyonlands is a truly unique place with a mix of tectonic and impact features alongside a detailed stratigraphy that records long periods of Earth’s environmental conditions. In those respects, it is similar to areas on Mars currently being explored by rovers and orbiting spacecraft.  It was certainly a long drive to get to Canyonlands and then back from Tucson, but it was certainly worth every mile.

Photos courtesy of Ali Bramson.

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