What else have the members of the Department of Astronomy & Planetary Science been doing?
Our faculty, staff, and students are making a difference on campus and around the world. Read about some of our achievements, activities, and successes.
Thanks to David Trilling for keeping track of all these accomplishments!
Mark Loeffler, Michelle Thompson, Josh Emery and Driss Takir received funding for their SSW proposal Accordion Closed
titled “Determining the Role of Space Weathering on Hydrated Asteroids through Laboratory Studies”. This will look how space weathering affects hydrated mineral’s 3-micron region through a combination of reflectance spectroscopy, surface chemical analysis and electron microscopy. The majority of the experiments and analysis will be performed here at NAU, while the electron microscopy will be performed at Purdue. Much of the preliminary data for this award was done with support from NAU’s HURA and Space Grant programs.
This award is for three-years and is for $601,926.
Incoming PhD student Ana Morgan has her first first-author paper out Accordion Closed
This includes faculty Cristina Thomas, Josh Emery, and adjunct faculty Will Grundy as co-authors.
David Trilling had a proposal funded by the National Science Foundation Accordion Closed
“Rapid response asteroid science from ZTF and LSST data” (three years, $452,885). This project will ingest data from an ongoing all-sky survey and continue to prepare software tools for an even bigger upcoming survey.
Incoming PhD student Alicia Allen is a co-author on a new paper that was just published in Science Accordion Closed
Christopher Edwards had a NASA PDART proposal funded to improve thermal model capabilities for the planetary science community Accordion Closed
This proposal includes support for postdoc, Christopher Haberle, and involves individuals from JPL and the USGS.
3 years starting in Dec. Total $783K
Astroinformatics boot camp (August 15-19) Accordion Closed
David Trilling, Mike Gowanlock (SICCS and affiliate faculty in APS), and Daniel Kramer (MS student in SICCS) are running and astroinformatics boot camp, August 15-19. This project was funded by the Las Cumbres Observatory and the Heising-Simons Foundation with the goal of increasing diversity in LSST- and astroinformatics-related fields. There are nine undergraduates in the boot camp, from a range of majors.
Professor Josh Emery and PhD student Lucas McClure are on a new paper Accordion Closed
Newly Minted PhD, Catherine Clark, has a new paper Accordion Closed
Kezman Saboi (data scientist in the Edwards group) is on a new paper Accordion Closed
Chad Trujillo and David Trilling appear in a recent article in Sky and Telescope Accordion Closed
“The Elusive Planet X,” inside the July Issue.
Adjunct professor and former faculty member (and former VPR!) Dave Schultz reports on a new NASA grant Accordion Closed
“The grant will be through NASA Goddard/University of Maryland where my collaborators on this X-ray work are. The Cayuse number is 22-0160 Charge-exchange X-ray Emission Calculations for XRISM Spectral Modeling: hydrogen- and helium-like highly-charged ion emission. It is nominally for three years and I think it will start in January.”
June 30 is Asteroid Day (did you know that??) Accordion Closed
Recent Phd awardee Audrey Martin gave a talk at a Lowell Observatory-hosted event at Meteor Crater, as did David Trilling together with Melissa Sevigny from KNAU.
Fourth year PhD student Andy Lopez-Oquendo’s first first-author paper is out Accordion Closed
Co-authors include David Trilling, recent PhD alumna Annika Gustafsson, and (very) recent PhD awardee Colin Chandler.
Congratulations to THREE students who defended their PhD dissertations Accordion Closed
Tony Maue (advisor: Devon Burr); Colin Chandler (advisor: Chad Trujillo); and Will Oldroyd (advisor: Chad Trujillo).
We are so proud of all of the great work you have done and wish you good luck in your next adventures!
Congratulations to Beau Prince who graduated in May Accordion Closed
and is heading to University of Arizona/LPL for his PhD in the fall. Beau published lots of papers and won tons of award, and is featured in a recent NAU Review article.
Beau did his research in Mark Loeffler’s lab.
Congratulations to PhD student Patrick Tribbett who won the NAU Graduate College Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant award!! Accordion Closed
Patrick works with Mark Loeffler.
The NAU Mars student-camera team had its successful Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in early May Accordion Closed
The review board consisted of 6 outside experts in Mars science and instrumentation and spaceflight hardware. Congratulations to the 15 students who presented and to the mentor team (Christopher Edwards, Chris Haberle, incoming PhD student Laura Lee, David Trilling, Alix Ford, and Michael Shafer from Mechanical Engineering). On to the next steps!
Here’s a really big one: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission was extended for 10 more years (that’s a lot!), renamed to OSIRIS-APex Accordion Closed
and repurposed for a long-term study of Near Earth Asteroid Apophis. Postdoc Chris Haberle was named the Instrument Scientist for OTES, and you can read all about it
This new role brings over $3M in funding to NAU. Congratulations, Chris!
Christopher Edwards shared a press release from JPL about recent findings of widespread CO2 frost on Mars and its role in regolith generation Accordion Closed
David Trilling is PI of a new NSF award entitled “A Flagstaff, Arizona, partnership in astronomy and astrophysics research and education to increase participation by underrepresented minority students.” Accordion Closed
This two year award will fund 20 underrepresented minority students from the CCC2NAU program — students who are starting at Coconino Community College and will transfer to NAU — to work in NAU astronomy-related research labs. The goal is to increase URM participation in astronomy and related fields, using research connections to increase retention and create future career opportunities. There is a long list of named collaborators: from APS, Christopher Edwards, Mark Loeffler, and Ty Robinson; from Forestry, Matt Bowker; from SICCS, Scott Goetz, Andrew Richardson, Chris Doughty, and Mike Gowanlock; from APMS, Gerrick Lindberg; from Mechanical Engineering, Michael Shafer; from Biology, Tinna Traustadottir, JJ Duke, and Sara Jarvis; from CSTL, Nena Bloom and Tina Zecher; and from Lowell, Jennifer Hanley. David is excited about starting this project and making this new connection that sits on top of the well-established 2NAU pipeline.
Phil Massey reports a few nibbles on the press release done on Erin Aadland’s paper Accordion Closed
Erin and Phil were interviewed by a reporter for NPR in Phoenix KJZZ: Star study shines new light on old stars, black holes
There’s also a few articles popping up here and there:
David Trilling presented at the recent “Apophis T-7” conference Accordion Closed
The meeting was to talk about research opportunities ahead of Apophis’Earth flyby in 2029 [OSIRIS-APex, above].
Congratulations to all our five spring, 2022, graduates Accordion Closed
Mary Bolling, Michelle Kearney, and Beau Prince (BS) and Erin Aadland, Catherine Clark, and Lauren Biddle (PhD). We are proud of you!
The EDI Committee successfully circulated its now-annual department climate survey Accordion Closed
This will be used to help track views on EDI-related issues. If you have not responded already, please follow this link to complete the survey.
Christopher Edwards, Mark Salvatore, and David Trilling were invited to present a high level summary of their research Accordion Closed
to the monthly OSP (Office of Special Projects) campus-wide research administration all-hands meeting.
Professor Ty Robinson and postdoc Arnaud Salvador have a new paper on the arXiv Accordion Closed
Postdoc Valerie Payre has two new papers Accordion Closed
Effects of phosphorus on partial melting of the Martian Mantle and compositions of the Martian Crust is about the effects of phosphorus on martian magmas and the implications regarding the mineralogy and composition of the upper-mantle and crust on Mars. Mars mantle contains 10 times more phosphorus than the terrestrial mantle, which has first orders implications regarding the composition/mineralogy of the interior of the two planets.
The role of assimilation and fractional crystallization in the evolution of the Mars crustdiscusses how crustal assimilation on Mars could have affected magma evolution, especially for felsic rocks analyzed by the Curiosity rover in Gale crater. It is the first time such process is modeled in martian conditions.
Congratulations to three students on their SUCCESSFUL PHD DEFENSES Accordion Closed
Catherine Clark, Lauren Biddle, and Erin Aadland. We are so proud of all of you!
Congratulations also to their advisors (by coincidence, all at Lowell Observatory): Gerard van Belle, Lisa Prato, and Phil Massey, respectively.
Finally, a special shout out to Ty Robinson (who served on all three committees!) and to Kathryn Neugent, who is an external member of Erin’s committee and is the first alum from our department to serve on one of our PhD committees (Kathryn received her MS from NAU in 2017, and participated in our REU program in 2009).
NASA’s Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey was released on April 19, 2022 Accordion Closed
This document presents community-identified high priority research and investment areas for the coming decade. Congratulations to Chad Trujillo for his hard work as a member of the Small Solar System Bodies panel.
The Flagstaff Astronomy Symposium reconvened in person in April Accordion Closed
Fifteen members of our department presented their research. Congratulations and see you again in the fall!
We had a number of undergraduate students presenting at NAU’s Undergraduate Expo & Symposium held in late April Accordion Closed
Congratulations to all those students and their mentors.
Several of our groups had booths at the Flagstaff STEM event at Fort Tuthill Accordion Closed
Postdoc Laura Fackrell and professorMark Salvatore there; and PhD student, Lori Pigue — both sharing projects they had built for K-12 students.
Postdoc Arnaud Salvador won a NASA Early Career Collaboration Award Accordion Closed
to fund travel to NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) and GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center) for work on understanding the interior-atmosphere coupling during the magma ocean phase of terrestrial planet evolution.
A number of graduate students and faculty presented at the recent Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Accordion Closed
- Lori Pigue gave an oral presentation in the Planetary Volcanism: Melt to Morphology session, on exploring relationships between effusive and explosive volcanism in the Montes Apenninus region of the Moon.
- Christian Tai Udovicic presented a talk Modeling the Effects of Basin Impacts and Ballistic Sedimentation on Ice in Lunar Cold Traps (#1528) about potential ice reservoirs near the lunar south pole. This talk and co-authored posters #1621, #1637 and #1687 were results from the 2021 LPI Exploration Science summer internship. Christian also co-authored poster #2113 about the rate of space weathering on the Moon.
- Oriel Humes gave an in-person talk on ultraviolet spectroscopy of Lucy mission targets.
- Helen Eifert gave a poster on the influence of alluvial fan process on grain size and morphometry of four fans in the Mojave Valley in the southwestern United States.
- Natalie Jones presented a poster in the “Environmental Analogs” session of LPSC, titled Mars Analog Environment: Compositional Remote Sensing of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Allie Rutledge, Mark Salvatore, and Briony Horgan (Purdue) were coauthors.
- Cece Thieberger and Chris Wolfe were co-authors on several presentations.
- Postdocs Cheng Ye and Valerie Payre also presented.
- Faculty Devon Burr, Christopher Edwards, Josh Emery, Mark Loeffler, Allie Rutledge, Mark Salvatore, and Cristina Thomas also presented.
PhD student Audrey Martin has accepted a postdoc at UCF Accordion Closed
to work with Kerri Donaldson-Hanna starting in August!
The APS EDI Committee held its first annual town hall-style event Accordion Closed
The Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity town hall was held on Friday, March 4th. Many tens of individuals from APS were in attendance, and a great deal of excellent ideas were presented to the EDI Committee. The EDI Committee is tracking suggestions from this event, and is already making forward progress in many associated areas!
PhD student Catherine Clark has a paper accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal Accordion Closed
PhD student Anna Engle’s team won at the Caltech Space Challenge! Accordion Closed
The challenge was to build a Titan lake sample return mission where it had to collect three samples from Ligeia Mare: 1) the atmosphere right above the lake, 2) the lake liquid, 2) solid material from either the shoreline or seafloor. Anna’s team decided to use a buoy+profiler design and the engineers built a system that would return 500 g of sample!! It was a great time and the team is already planning on doing yearly reunions!
Research faculty Allie Rutledge gave a talk at LPSC during its first dedicated Planetary Science Division Early Career Award plenary session Accordion Closed
Christopher Edwards is a co-author on a paper published in Icarus Accordion Closed
Alumnus JJ Zanazi (BS 2013) won a 51 Peg b postdoctoral fellowship Accordion Closed
David Trilling is PI of a recently-selected program to use SOFIA Accordion Closed
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, is a 747 with a telescope inside; the observatory flies above 40,000 feet. CoIs include Cristina Thomas and PhD student Oriel Humes.
The instrument scientist for the SOFIA program is Nicole Karnath — an alumna of our MS program from 2013!
Postdoc Laura Fackrell proposal for NASA Postdoctoral Program was selected Accordion Closed
She will be returning to research related to off-world sustainable agriculture and planetary protection. “I get to grow snap peas ‘on the Moon’ at JPL!”
Mary Lara and Ed Anderson hosted a Star Party on March 26, for Delaware North’s Yavapai Lodge, at Grand Canyon National Park, as part of their celebration of Earth Hour Accordion Closed
They brought 4 telescopes and set up in the parking lot of Market Village where the lodge staff reserved an area for the star party and turned of the lights!! Approximately 200 lodge patrons and others turned out of the event. Telescopes were operated by Michelle & Kevin Weidinger (FUSD Walker Observatory), Tracy Begay (AIMER Space Grant Intern) and Margie McCullough (Ed’s better half).
Steve Tegler was awarded $50k from the NAU/TRIF/REAP program Accordion Closed
to bring the thin film station in the Astrophysical Materials Lab online.
Mark Salvatore was awarded $20K from the NAU/TRIF/S-REAP program Accordion Closed
to build the Planetary Environmental Research Chamber (PERCh).
Undergraduate Beau Prince and Mark Loeffler published an article in Icarus Accordion Closed
This work shows that the blue spectral slope on these types of asteroids could simply be a consequence of the presence of micron-size dark material that will be mixed in the surface regolith.
Beau is, justifiably, having a lot of success in the graduate admissions process — congratulations, Beau, and very well deserved!
PhD student Lauren Biddle has accepted a postdoc position at UT Austin Accordion Closed
with Dr. Brendan Bowler to work on high-contrast imaging of young exoplanets with Hubble!”
Congratulations, Lauren — we are all very proud of you!
Two papers from first year PhD student Lucas McClure’s senior thesis, with him as first author on both, have been published in Icarus Accordion Closed
The papers re-assess calibrations for determining asteroid mineralogy from spectra, then applies new calibrations to archives spectra of S-complex asteroids.
PhD student Audrey Martin’s published in Icarus Accordion Closed
PhD student Oriel Humes won the Geological Society of America’s Planetary Geology Division Button Art Competition Accordion Closed
Congratulations , Oriel!
PhD student Catherine Clark was featured on the “Highlights from the American Astronomical Society YouTube Channel” Accordion Closed
Once you’ve watched that video and been impressed by Catherine and her work you will not be surprised to learn that she has accepted a postdoc position at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.
She’ll be working in the Exoplanet Exploration Program office with Karl Stapelfeldt and Eric Mamajek. (Part of the job is also at Caltech’s NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute, NexSci.)
PhD student Colin Chandler has accepted a postdoc position at the University of Washington to work on the LSST Interdisciplinary Network for Collaboration and Computing (LINCC). Accordion Closed
LSST is the Legacy Survey of Space and Time — an all-sky survey that will come online in a year or two, using a large telescope in Chile, and that will revolutionize astronomy. Colin’s position is as Project Scientist, overseeing and working on Solar System science that will result from LSST.
Adjunct faculty member Phil Massey (Lowell Observatory) was named as a 2022 Fellow of the American Astronomical Society Accordion Closed
Colin Chandler’s citizen science project in the list of the 10 most read stories of 2021 in The NAU Review Accordion Closed
PhD student Tony Maue published his first, first-author papers Accordion Closed
Rapid rounding of icy clasts during simulated fluvial transport in the Titan Tumbler concerns results from our Titan Tumbler experiments simulating fluvial abrasion on Titan, conducted at Colgate University with NAU faculty Devon Burr, and Colgate colleague Joe Levy and students.
Sieved mass and shape data from simulated fluvial transport of icy clasts in the Titan Tumbler contains the full publicly available data set from the experiments.
PhD student Anna Engle accepted to attend the Caltech Space Challenge in March! Accordion Closed
Anna is of 32 selected out of 900 applicants.
Wow, Anna — congratulations!
Cristina Thomas has been named to the James Webb Space Telescope Users Committee Accordion Closed
Thanks for taking on this service, Cristina!
Christopher Edwards was re-selected as a Mars Science Laboratory Participating Scientist Accordion Closed
This includes funding for the next ~3.5 years for Edwards and a postdoc.
Christopher Edwards Emirates Mars Mission Training funding will continue at NAU Accordion Closed
for at least another year following the augmentation of an existing award
Mars Student Camera Development Class is underway Accordion Closed
under the supervision of Christopher Edwards, and we will soon be the proud owners of a class 10K clean room!