Public Star Night 18 May 2018 – Dr Vicky Hamilton – SwRI – “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission to the Asteroid Bennu (and Back)”

Our guest speaker for this public star night will be Dr Vicky Hamilton from Boulder’s Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and the topic of her talk will about the OSIRIS-REx mission.

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 asteroid Bennu to help scientists understand the origin and evolution of our solar system, and how life began.  Asteroids like Bennu are remnants of the infant solar system and contain a record of events that are not preserved on Earth. Bennu also is likely rich in carbon, a key element in the organic molecules necessary for life. Organic molecules have been found in meteorite and comet samples, indicating that some of life’s ingredients can be created in space; scientists want to see if they also are present on Bennu. OSIRIS-REx 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.

Vicky Hamilton is a staff scientist and acting section manager at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. She received her Ph.D. from Arizona State University and her A.B. from Occidental College.  Vicky has extensive experience with laboratory spectroscopy and planetary data analysis, having worked on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Science Laboratory, 2001 Mars Odyssey, OSIRIS-REx, and Lucy missions. She has built, operates, and manages a NASA-supported spectroscopy laboratory equipped to measure rocks, minerals, and meteorites. In her spare time, Vicky enjoys photography, hiking, and archery.

Weather permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through our large telescope at various celestial objects. Our Public Star Nights are usually held the third Friday of each month, except July, when we are closed for annual maintenance.
If you have any questions, please call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at

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