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LPL Fieldtrip Fall 2014: Southern New Mexico

Department News

LPL Fieldtrip Fall 2014: Southern New Mexico

by Shane Byrne

As rovers crawl across the surface of Mars, they can investigate small-scale structures in sedimentary rock that can’t be seen from orbital datasets. These structures can tell us a lot about the environment within which the rocks were deposited. Terrestrial geologists have been interpreting these features for a long time, but it is a relatively new tool in planetary science. On this trip we journeyed to southern New Mexico where we saw examples of deposits from volcanic base surges and aeolian material that contain some of these sedimentary structures.

Our first stop for this LPL field trip was Kilbourne hole and the neighboring Aden lava flow (a good example of an inflated flow with polygonal fractures).  Kilbourne hole is a Maar crater i.e., where subterranean magma encounters ground water and generates repeated explosions. These explosions throw out debris and generate base surges that can mobilize these particles into cross-bedded patterns. Later erosion at Kilbourne Hole allows us to see cross-sections of this stratigraphy and occasional volcanic bombs that are embedded within it. Kilbourne Hole is also famous for its mantle xenoliths—chunks of almost pure olivine carried to the surface from great depth. They are hard to find these days as the site was been thoroughly picked over by geo-tourists, but we were lucky enough to discover a large one (~40 pounds). It is also well known for its large rattlesnake population, which we fortunately failed to discover.

After leaving Kilbourne Hole, we traveled to the White Sands dune field. Cross-bedding in the making can be observed here as gypsum sand avalanches down dune slipfaces. White Sands has many types of dunes (from parabolic to barchan) and a wide range of dune migration rates, which can be clearly measured in orbital imagery and airborne LIDAR datasets (dune migration rates can now also be routinely measured on Mars through HiRISE orbital imagery). We hiked out to Alkali Flats to see the source of the dunefield—gypsum crystalizes on the surface of a playa here before blowing eastward towards the dunes. One non-geologic highlight of the trip was the permission to camp overnight within the park. Incredibly dark skies even allowed for views of the zodiacal light and the white dunes illuminated by starlight gave this terrestrial analog an unearthly quality.

Catherine Elder at White Sands National Monument
(courtesy Margaret Landis)

White Sands
(courtesy Catherine Elder)

Up the rim of Kilbourne Hole
(courtesy Melissa Dykhuis)

Rick Greenberg and Randy Jokipii to Retire

Professor Richard Greenberg and Regents' Professor J.R. "Randy" Jokipii have announced their plans to retire in 2015.

Faculty News

Rick Greenberg and Randy Jokipii to Retire

Professor Richard Greenberg and Regents' Professor J.R. "Randy" Jokipii have announced their plans to retire in 2015.

Rick Greenberg began his career at LPL in 1986 as a Senior Research Scientist before becoming a Professor in 1990. His research has centered on investigations of the dynamical evolution of the solar system, including studies of asteroids, meteorites, planetary rings, and the formation of the planets. Rick has had a long-term research program in tidal processes and orbital resonances among natural satellites, and their implications for the history and physical character of the satellites. Recent work has included studies of the tidal evolution of extra-solar planets and the implications for planetary-system formation and planetary properties. Greenberg was a member of the Imaging Team for NASA's Galileo spacecraft mission from 1977 until 2003, where his research became focused on characterizing and interpreting Jupiter's satellite Europa. This work led to the publication of Unmasking Europa in 2008. 

From 1989 until 2000, Professor Greenberg  led the University of Arizona's campus-wide initiative in support of pre-college science, mathematics, and technology education as founder and director of the Science and Mathematics Education Center (SAMEC). SAMEC accomplishments included reform of the teacher-preparation program, unique new procedures for appropriate evaluation and reward for faculty efforts in education, cultivation and coordination of sponsored projects across the campus, and integration of the K-12 science and mathematics teaching communities into the education activities of the university. He also founded and directed the Image Processing for Teaching (IPT) project, and was founding CEO of the non-profit Center for Image Processing in Education, Inc., the dissemination entity for IPT, which gave students in classrooms across the nation the power to engage in substantive scientific exploration and discovery using state-of-the-art digital image processing.

Professor Greenberg has mentored many PTYS students over the years, including William Bottke (PTYS), Melissa Dykhuis (PTYS), Sarah E. Frey (Applied Math), Greg Hoppa (PTYS), Terry Hurford (PTYS), Brian Jackson (PTYS), Michael Nolan (PTYS), David O'Brien (PTYS), James Richardson (PTYS), Chris Schaller (PTYS), Joseph Spitale (PTYS), Randy Tufts (Geosciences), and Christa L. Van Laerhoven (PTYS).


Randy Jokipii has spent the majority of his professional career at LPL—over 40 years. Prior to joining LPL as a full professor in 1973, he was on the faculty at both the University of Chicago and Caltech. He is one of the world’s leading theoreticians on the study of cosmic rays in the Galaxy and solar system. He is responsible for many of the field’s current paradigms including the origin of the 22-year cycle in the intensity of galactic cosmic rays seen at Earth. Professor Jokipii has had very broad research interests at LPL including cosmic-ray astrophysics, solar, heliospheric and astrophysical plasma physics, plasma and magnetic field turbulence in astrophysical fluids, and the acceleration of charged nuclei to high energies by astrophysical shock waves. He has had formal involvement in a number of spacecraft missions, including Ulysses as an Interdisciplinary Scientist, and as a Guest Investigator for both the Advanced Composition Explorer mission and Voyager Interstellar Mission, the latter of which he remains actively involved.

In 1985, Professor Jokipii led a proposal for a legislative decision package to establish a theoretical astrophysics program (TAP) at the University of Arizona. The Arizona state legislature voted this program into existence with a line item in the state budget in June 1985.  Professor Jokipii was named the founding director of TAP, and served for more than a decade in that capacity. His vision was that "a strong, coordinated theoretical astrophysics program—coupled with the existing observational program—can provide an increased intellectual basis for research in astronomy, planetary sciences, physics and indeed many other areas on campus."  TAP quickly hired several new faculty (Adam Burrows, David Arnett, Ramesh Narayan, Jonathan Lunine) whose strong record of research and scholarship brought them wide recognition and honors and soon catapulted the University of Arizona into national stature in theoretical astrophysics.

Professor Jokipii is a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Geophysical Union. He was named a University Regents' Professor in 1996 and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2001. His former Ph.D. students include Guy Consolmagno (PTYS), Vladimir Florinski (PTYS), Chung-Ming Ko (Physics), David Kopriva (Applied Math), Vladimir Pariev (Astronomy), Chunsheng Pei (AMe), Lance Williams (PTYS), and Aramais Zakharian (PTYS).

Welcome, Jonathan Dykhuis!

Congratulations to Melissa and Nathan Dykhuis, who welcomed a new son, Jonathan Joseph, born April 17, 9.0 lbs and 21 inches. Melissa writes, "He's got the sleep schedule of an astronomer already, and has a head start learning the names of the planets from his excited older brother, Matthew."

Graduate Student News

Welcome, Jonathan Dykhuis!

Congratulations to Melissa and Nathan Dykhuis, who welcomed a new son, Jonathan Joseph, born April 17, 9.0 lbs and 21 inches. Melissa writes, "He's got the sleep schedule of an astronomer already, and has a head start learning the names of the planets from his excited older brother, Matthew."

 

 

 

Renu Malhotra Elected to National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Professor Renu Malhotra has been elected as a member of both the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Faculty News

Renu Malhotra Elected to National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Professor Renu Malhotra has been elected as a member of both the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

The NAS is a private, non-profit society of scholars, established in 1863. It provides objective advising on science and technology issues. Members are elected by their peers in recognition of distinguished and continuing accomplishments in original research. Approximately 500 of its members  have won Nobel Prizes. LPL faculty members Randy Jokipii, Jay Melosh (Emeritus), and George Rieke are also elected members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences is one of the oldest and most prestigious academic societies in the U.S. It was established in 1780 to convene leaders from a variety of disciplines (academic, business, government) for the purpose of addressing critical challenges to society. Notable members from the discipline of science have included Percival Lowell, Albert Einstein, and Mariah Mitchell. Among the Academy Fellows, there are more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Professor Malhotra received her Ph.D. in Physics from Cornell. Her research focus is orbital dynamics and theoretical astrophysics. She was the awarded the Harold C. Urey Prize (AAS Division for Planetary Sciences) in 1997. Professor Malhotra joined the LPL faculty in 2000. In 2010, she was named a Galileo Circle Fellow of the University of Arizona. Professor Malhotra is Chair of the Theoretical Astrophysics Program at the University of Arizona.

More information about Professor Malhotra and her election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and to the National Academy of Sciences is available from two UA News articles: uanews.org/story/academy-elects-ua-planetary-sciences-professor and uanews.org/story/ua-professor-elected-to-science-academy. A celebration in honor of these achievements was held at LPL on April 30,

Congratulations to Professor Malhotra!

 

LPL Outreach: Spring 2015

by Sarah Morrison

Spring is a busy time for outreach! LPL students, faculty, staff, and volunteers have reached well over 5,000 people this spring semester alone—ranging from introducing preschoolers to “space rocks” to giving popular monthly lectures at Borderlands Brewery as part of our Space Drafts Public Talk Series, a collaboration with Steward Observatory and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).

Department News

LPL Outreach: Spring 2015

by Sarah Morrison

Spring is a busy time for outreach! LPL students, faculty, staff, and volunteers have reached well over 5,000 people this spring semester alone—ranging from introducing preschoolers to “space rocks” to giving popular monthly lectures at Borderlands Brewery as part of our Space Drafts Public Talk Series, a collaboration with Steward Observatory and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).

LPL graduate students Ali Bramson and Donna Viola (shown) talk about "Crazy Craters!!! Windows into Martian Ice" as part of our Space Drafts Public Talk Series at Borderlands Brewery on February 11, 2015.

Other highlights for the semester included LPL participation in two events held in Phoenix: Saturday, January 31, at the Connect2STEM event on UA’s Biomedical Campus, and February 1 at the pre-Super Bowl XLIX festivities. LPL students and staff were there to showcase the department's broad research strengths and 500 football and science fans alike enjoyed learning about the OSIRIS-REx mission as well as how we discover and characterize exoplanets.

 
 
LPL graduate student Sarah Morrison and OSIRIS-REx Ambassador/LPL staff Jonna Zucarelli show off the OSIRIS-REx mission and how we use spectroscopy to figure out the composition of objects in our Solar System and beyond at Connect2STEM on January 31, 2015.
 

LPL activity tables at the Tucson Festival of Books (TFoB) were huge hits this year. The department had a strong presence at TFoB's Science City, with participation from OSIRIS-REx (led by Dolores Hill), Teaching Teams (led by Dr. Steve Kortenkamp), and LPL graduate students (led by Sarah Morrison), along with LPL’s Maria Schuchardt as Science City’s Science of Tomorrow tent manager. The graduate students themselves talked directly with over 530 people about our Solar System and beyond!

 
 
LPL graduate student Donna Viola wows a family at the Tucson Festival of Books with a comparison of our terrestrial planets on March 14, 2015.

The LPL Speaker Request form has increased our visibility to the community and allowed us to reach a more diverse audience ranging from preschool children to retirees. Keep those requests coming!

We have many more events on the way, so stay tuned!

Donation Enables Expanded Fireball Network

LPL has a long history and much experience with tracking space rocks. From astronomical surveys such as Spacewatch and the Catalina Sky Survey to the Meteorite Lab to the OSIRIS-REx sample return mission, LPL knows asteroids and meteorites. Now, thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous donor, even more expert eyes will be trained on the sky over southern Arizona.

Department News

Donation Enables Expanded Fireball Network

LPL has a long history and much experience with tracking space rocks. From astronomical surveys such as Spacewatch and the Catalina Sky Survey to the Meteorite Lab to the OSIRIS-REx sample return mission, LPL knows asteroids and meteorites. Now, thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous donor, even more expert eyes will be trained on the sky over southern Arizona. A new collaboration between LPL, the Curtin University of Perth, Australia, and the Vatican Observatory will deploy a network of all-sky cameras throughout southern Arizona. Operating every night, the cameras will monitor the sky for incoming fireballs and help recover any meteorite dropping events in the area.

Phil Bland of the Curtin University operates the Desert Fireball Network which has been successful in the recovery of two observed meteorite falls, the Bunburra Rockhole eucrite in 2007, and an unpublished 2010 event in the Nullarbor Plains of Australia. The network consists of a number of semi-autonomous systems utilizing commercial DSLR cameras. Bland has agreed to provide 4 to 5 cameras for the Tucson area. The anonymous donation to LPL will allow the lab to match Bland’s contribution and build an additional 4 to 5 cameras.The first system will be shipped to Tucson next month for testing, with the remainder delivered throughout the year. Carl Hergenrother of LPL and Jean-Baptiste Kikwaya of the Vatican Observatory will operate the network with Bland.

With its clear skies and desert terrain, southern Arizona is a productive region for meteorite fall detection and recovery. The placement of the network across the region allows fireballs to be observed from multiple locations. By “triangulating” the path of a fireball from different locales, its atmospheric trajectory can be determined resulting in a better prediction of any fall sites and the object’s pre-atmospheric orbit around the Sun.

The new network will complement a group of three existing southern Arizona all-sky fireball cameras set up last fall on Mount Lemmon, Mount Hopkins, and Kitt Peak as a collaboration between NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, LPL, Vatican Observatory, Steward Observatory, MMT Observatory and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

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