Congratulations Dr. Tracy Becker!

Congratulations to our grad student expert on Saturn’s rings who successfully defended her dissertaiton in December. Tracy is now starting a postdoc at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, TX.

Congratulations Dr. Nate Lust!

Nate Lust, one of our graduate students, has successfully defended his PhD dissertation on using new mathematical and statistical tehcniques to improve the signal-to-noise ratios and thus the interpretation of photometric data.  Congratulations Dr. Lust!

Congratulations Dr. Emily Kramer!

Emily Kramer, one of our graduate students, has successfully defended her PhD dissertation. She will be moving on to a NASA Postdoctoral position at JPL to continue to do wonderful science. Congratulations Dr. Kramer!

UCF to run Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute

NASA has selected UCF to host one of nine new “Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institutes”. This is a five-year, multi-million dollar institute that will be led by Prof. Dan Britt, and will involve many additional personnel at UCF as well as researchers and collaborators around the world. A description of the institutes can be found in the NASA press release. There’s also an article in Florida Today!

UCF Astronomers Bring the Moon to the Public

A team of UCF planetary scientists set up telescopes at Knights Plaza to participate in International Observe the Moon Night, a global event designed to bring the wonders of the Moon and the night sky to as many people as possible! UCF’s event was one of hundreds happening that day around the world. About 100 members of the UCF community and general public were able to see craters on the Moon, the phase of Venus, and sunspots on the Sun. The team included Prof. Yan Fernandez, Dr. Addie Dove, Jenna Jones, Tracy Becker, and Allison Bratcher.

UCF Astronomers appear on NBC

In a “Science Behind the News” segment, Joe Harrington and Csaba Palotai discuss their research on how an atmosphere responds to the impact of a comet or asteroid. Very timely stuff given the recent DA14 flyby and the Chelyabinsk bolide! You can watch the 5 minute segment here.

UCF Experiment Wins Free trip to the International Space Station

A University of Central Florida experiment that could help explain how planets formed in our solar system has won a free ride to the International Space Station in 2013. Physics professor Joshua Colwell’s experiment is one of eight winners of the Space Florida International Space Station Research Competition sponsored by Space Florida and NanoRacks. Read the full story at COSNews.

Whizzing Asteroid Turns Rocket Scientists’ Heads

International leaders in asteroid and comet research are gathering at the University of Central Florida in Orlando Friday, Feb. 15, for a special “viewing party” that will climax with asteroid 2012 DA14 zipping between Earth and orbiting communication satellites (within 14,000 miles of Earth). The asteroid, the size of a city block, will squeeze by Earth’s atmosphere and the geostationary satellites orbiting the planet. It will be the closest fly by in history. Read the full story at COSNews.