Public Star Night – Friday, May 17, 2024 – Dr Vicky Hamilton

Public Star Night – Friday, May 17, 2024

            Little Thompson Observatory

                    Doors Open:  7:00 | Guest Speaker 7:30 – 8:30 | Observing at LTO: 8:30-10:00                     

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission: Early Results from Asteroid Sample Analysis

The primary objective of NASA’s Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission is to explore and return a pristine sample from the asteroid Bennu to help scientists understand the origin and evolution of our solar system and, ultimately, how life began.  After arriving at Bennu in 2018, the spacecraft gathered data to understand the asteroid and select a sampling site.  A sample was collected successfully in October 2020 and OSIRIS-REx began its return to Earth in May 2021.  In September of 2023, the sample was successfully returned to Earth — the mission science team has begun analysis of this incredible sample and this presentation will describe early results.

Dr. Vicky Hamilton is an Institute Scientist at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. She received her Ph.D. from Arizona State University and her A.B. from Occidental College. She is a geologist specializing in laboratory spectroscopy of minerals, meteorites, and returned samples, numerical modeling of infrared spectra, and infrared remote sensing of planetary surfaces to determine composition and physical properties. She has been a science team Co-Investigator and Deputy Instrument Scientist/Principal Investigator on NASA planetary science flight missions to Mars and asteroids, including Mars Global Surveyor, 2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Science Laboratory, OSIRIS-REx, and Lucy. She is also the Chair of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG), a research community-based, interdisciplinary forum providing the science input needed to plan and prioritize NASA’s Mars exploration activities.

Following Dr. Hamilton’s talk, the observatory will be open for public viewing through our telescopes, weather permitting.

Posted in LTO News