The Northern Colorado Astronomical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the science of astronomy and to encourage and coordinate activities of amateur astronomers.

Download the Current Issue of the “Objective View” Newsletter: December 2016

August 3rd, 2017 - Featured Speaker: Dr. Vicky Hamilton

Sampling the Early Solar System: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission

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Speaker Bio: Dr. Vicky Hamilton is a planetary geologist with extensive experience in laboratory infrared spectroscopy and Mars data analysis.  Her primary interest is in the mineralogy of planetary objects (planets, asteroids), and what they can tell us about the history of the object and the solar system. She was an affiliate of the Mars Global Surveyor TES instrument science team, and was a Participating Scientist on the 2001 Mars Odyssey and Mars Science Laboratory missions. She is the Deputy Principal Investigator for the THEMIS instrument on Mars Odyssey, and is a science team Co-Investigator and Deputy Instrument Scientist on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission and the Lucy trojan asteroid tour mission.  She has published on laboratory mineral and meteorite spectroscopy, numerical modeling of infrared spectra, Martian surface composition and geology, Martian atmospheric aerosol composition, & surface thermophysical properties.  Hamilton built, operates, and manages a NASA-supported spectroscopy laboratory equipped with three spectrometers for measuring visible, near infrared, and thermal infrared properties of rocks, minerals, and meteorites.  She received her Ph.D. in Geology from Arizona State University and her A.B. in Geology from Occidental College.

Note: Dinner with Dr. Hamilton will be at 5 pm before her talk. The restaurant is currently TBA, but will be provided via club-news email a few days before the meeting.

Talk Abstract: Asteroids are remnants of the infant solar system and contain a record of events that are not preserved on Earth.  Carbonaceous asteroids are of particular interest because they are rich in carbon, a key element in the organic molecules that are crucial for life. The primary objective of NASA’s Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission is to return a pristine sample from the carbonaceous asteroid Bennu to help scientists understand the origin and evolution of our solar system, and how life began. Bennu is a potentially hazardous, near-Earth asteroid, and OSIRIS-REx observations of Bennu also will provide key insights into how near-Earth asteroid orbits change over time and how we can use this information to better predict which asteroids may pose a hazard to Earth. During this presentation, we will talk about the OSIRIS-REx mission objectives/science, timeline, and upcoming activities as we make our way to Bennu (arriving in late 2018).

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