Researchers with UCF Connections Honored with Asteroid Names

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.

Planetary Sciences Group revamps website

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!

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.