An international collection of scientists who study asteroids, comets, and meteors met this week at the (appropriately named) Asteroids Comets Meteors 2017 conference in Montevideo, Uruguay. It is the most important such conference in the world for these researchers. A tradition at this approximately-triennial conference (first held in 1983) is to honor some of the researchers in the community by naming asteroids for them, and this year’s conference was no exception. Asteroid 10689, a.k.a. 1981 DZ1, is now officially named Pinillaalonso in honor of UCF’s very own Dr. Noemí Pinilla-Alonso, a planetary astronomer here at the Florida Space Institute. Additionally, asteroid 10282, a.k.a. 1981 ET46, is now officially named Emilykramer in honor of Dr. Emily Kramer, a scientist at Caltech/JPL who earned her Ph.D. at UCF in our group in 2014. Both asteroids are in the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Pinillaalonso is about 13 to 14 kilometers in diameter; Emilykramer is about 2 to 4 kilometers in diameter.
Drs. Pinilla-Alonso and Kramer join a few other faculty at UCF — Drs. Britt, Campins, Fernández, Lugo, and Harrington — who have been similarly honored with asteroid names. In total, over a dozen current and former UCF personnel have been so honored.
We’ve updated our website into a format that we hope will improve the user experience, ease navigation, and align better with UCF’s colors. Over the next few weeks we will be making sure our content is updated and that it has all ported over to this new site!
OSIRIS-REx is NASA’s New-Frontiers-class mission to visit a primitive asteroid and return a sample of it to Earth. Read about some of the UCF faculty and students who are involved with this exciting mission. The spacecraft is scheduled to launch from KSC on September 8.
Our graduate student, Jenna Crowell, has won the Best Student Poster Competition in the Planetary Science section at the recent Asia Oceania Geosciences Society annual conference, held in Beijing. Congratulations Jenna! She presented her research on thermophysical modeling of near-Earth asteroid 1627 Ivar.
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.
Our two resident grad student exoplanet experts have successfully defended their dissertations and have left us for postdocs. Patricio is now in the planetary department at the University of Graz, Austria, and Jasmina is now in Abu Dhabi working at NYU’s campus there.
Kelsey Hargrove, has successfully defended her PhD dissertation on near- and mid-IR characterization of primitive asteroids. Congratulations Dr. Hargrove!
The 46th Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences — the premiere planetary science conference in the U.S. and arguably in the world — is happening this week in Tucson, Arizona. There are 21 UCF-led presentations at this meeting. 75% of our graduate students wilil be there to present talks and posters.
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!
Robinson Observatory sponsored the make-up date for the International Observe the Moon Night. This was originally scheduled for September 6th but the event was clouded out. The make-up date had clear skies and the volunteers gave great views of the night sky to about 50 folks, both students and the general public.
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!
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!
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.
This week in Denver, CO, the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society is holding their 45th Annual Meeting. An astounding TWENTY-TWO UCFers are giving presentations at that conference, including undergraduates, graduate students, researchers, and faculty. There’s more info by checking out the UCF press release.