John Noonan (@J_Noons) is a graduate student at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. For the last three and a half years he has worked on the European Space Agency Rosetta mission during its rendezvous and escort of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. More specifically, John works on the spacecraft’s ultraviolet spectrograph, Alice. Comets are typically thought of as some of the least altered objects from the beginning of the solar system, and their study helps bring planetary scientists as close as possible to this mysterious time. The ultraviolet realm of the electromagnetic spectrum is particularly useful for studying atomic and small molecular abundances, which is ideal for figuring out the formation location and thermal history of a comet.
John lived the vast majority of his life in the mountains of Colorado before moving to Boulder, Colorado to study Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Quickly after attending his first microbiology class he changed his major to astrophysics and graduated in 2016 summa cum laude. After graduation John continued to work on the Rosetta mission as well as a flight controller for NASA’s CYGNSS mission at the Southwest Research Institute. John moved to Tucson in August 2017 to begin his Ph.D. at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. You can find John riding his bike the vast majority of the time, which he finds to be the best stress therapy around.