This week, February 10-15, 2014, features Andy Rivkin. Andy is a planetary astronomer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD, with his research focusing on the composition of asteroids. In particular, he is interested in those asteroids that have evidence of water or organic materials in them, detectable in their infrared reflectance spectrum. This pursuit has led to studies of asteroids from 1996 FG3, a near-Earth asteroid on which clay minerals has been found, to 24 Themis, an asteroid in the outer belt on which his team found water ice– a first for asteroids. He has had particular interest in the dwarf planet Ceres, producing several papers in the past few years detailing its unusual composition and variation across its surface, as well as writing a focus paper for the Planetary Science Decadal Survey.
In addition to observational work, Andy has been active in the broader near-Earth object community, serving as a team member in several efforts to understand and report the impact hazard we face and how to lessen it, and leading a group reporting to NASA about the most important unknown factors related to human exploration of an asteroid.
The other 51 weeks of the year, you can find Andy at @asrivkin.