Introducing Henry Throop

Henry Throop is a planetary astronomer based in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the outer solar system, and he has published over 40 articles in scientific journals, on topics ranging from to rings of Saturn and Jupiter, to planet and star formation, to astrobiology and the origins of life, to searching for (and co-discovering) Pluto’s smallest moon, Styx, in 2012. Throop is member of the science team for NASA’s New Horizons mission, and was involved in its historic flyby of Pluto in 2015 and Ultima Thule in 2019. He received a PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Colorado, in 2000. Throop is a program officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, where he is a program manager for NASA’s planetary research program.

Throop has spent much of his career bringing astronomy to the developing world. While living for eight years in Africa, India, and Mexico, he worked extensively with schools and community groups, helping to develop their science programs and inspire the next generation of leaders. He has presented more than 150 lectures for science festivals, planetariums, school groups, and public events across the world. Throop’s work has been featured in Science, Nature, Time, The Washington Post, and on the History Channel and National Geographic TV, as well as dozens of newspapers from Pakistan to Hungary to Namibia.

Throop’s work has won him broad accolades. In 2017 he was awarded both the US State Department’s Avis Bohlen Award, and the American Astronomical Society’s Carl Sagan Medal, for his work in science communication and outreach to the public. Asteroid “193736 Henrythroop” was named in his honor.


Introducing Jennifer Grier

Hello Astrofolks! – I’m Dr. Jennifer Grier, a Senior Scientist and Education/Communications Specialist at the Planetary Science Institute (HQ Tucson, AZ).  My formal education is in the sciences, with a B.S. in Astronomy and a Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences, but I also have 25 years of experience working in science education and outreach.  Some science stuff I’ve done: determined the relative ages of lunar rayed craters through optical maturity of ejecta, dated channels on Mars with crater statistics, found the ages of thermal impact events on asteroids by isotopic examination of meteorites, and estimated the time of formation of the Gardnos impact structure on Earth.  Some of my specific education work has included:  partnering with school systems to develop astronomy curricula, working with science museums to verify exhibit content, professional development workshops for teachers and scientists in education and outreach, and also teaching online/university/community college classes.  My current interests include inclusion and equity in STEM careers, the ethics of space exploration, and mental health/disability issues in the sciences.  If not doing those things then I’m doing creative writing, such as poetry, essays, fiction, articles and more – my works in progress include a collection of creepy childhood horror poems and a space opera novel trilogy.  And that book of essays about the alchemy of science and writing …
You can find my musings and other info in various places like:

Introducing Cesare Grava

I am a Research Scientist at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. I got both my master’s degree and my PhD in Astronomy at the University of Padua, Italy, where Galileo discovered the Jovian moons and ushered the modern era of astronomy, with a thesis on (among other objects)… Io, one of the Galilean moons. I study the exospheres of airless bodies in the Solar System: the Moon, Io, Mercury… you name it. I combine Monte Carlo modeling with data analysis (spectroscopy), with data taken both from the ground and from space. I am deputy project scientist of LAMP, UV spectrograph on board the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and I am on the team of Strofio, a mass spectrometer that is currently en route to Mercury on BepiColombo. You can find me on twitter at @cesaregrava

Besides astronomy (especially planetary science), my passions are (in no particular order): movies (including some blockbusters), geography, traveling, hiking, Queen, and photography.


Introducing Paul Byrne

Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) is Assistant Professor of Planetary Science at North Carolina State University. He graduated with a Ph.D. in planetary geology from Trinity College Dublin in 2010 and participated in the MESSENGER mission as a postdoctoral fellow from 2011 to 2015 at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Through a combination of remotely sensed data, physical and numerical modeling, and fieldwork at analog sites, his research focuses on the links between surface and interior processes on rocky and icy bodies in this solar System and beyond.

Introducing Tim Holt

Tim Holt (@timholtastro )is an Australian PhD candidate at the Centre for Astrophysics, University of Southern Queensland. The commute is a bit far though, as he currently has an office at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO, USA. He is in his second year of a PhD working on the Taxonomy and Dynamics of small Solar system bodies, with a primary focus on the Jovian Trojan Asteroids. There are two aspects to this work, using n-body simulations to look at the dynamics of families, and borrowing a technique from biology, cladistics for the taxonomy.

In a previous life, Tim spent his undergraduate at the University of Queensland digging up Dinosaurs. There were some diversions in retail, and a stint as a high school science teacher, before eventually settling in Astronomy with Swinburne Astronomy Online.

Besides science, Tim enjoys Sci-fi in it’s many forms, especially Internet Spaceships (Eve Online), books, IT stuff, board games and traveling.

Introducing Nick Attree

Nick Attree (@nick_attree) is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Stirling in Scotland, working on thermal modelling in support of the InSight mission. InSight, which lands on Mars on the 26th November, will measure subsurface temperatures up to 5 m deep in order to determine the geothermal heat flow, as well as measuring Mars-quakes! The group at Stirling is interested in the physical and mechanical properties of the upper regolith layers, and how these affect the heat flow measurements.

Nick worked previously at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, in the south of France, on the MiARD (Multi Instrument Analysis of Rosetta Data) project, using modelling and data from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft to explore the physical and mechanical properties of comet 67P. In particular, he used OSIRIS camera images to analyse surface features, such as overhanging cliffs and fractures, to investigate the mechanical strength of the nucleus material, as well as navigation and position data, to measure the effects of outgassing on the comet’s orbit.

Nick completed his PhD at Queen Mary University of London, working with Cassini data on collisions in Saturn’s F ring. Before that, he obtained his MPhys degree in Physics with Planetary Science from Leicester University.

Outside of research, he enjoys football (watching and playing), walking, reading, sci-fi, music, coffee & cake, and exploring new places in Scotland!

Introducing Brian Jackson

Brian Jackson ( is an assistant professor teaching astronomy in the Physics Department at Boise State University. Before coming to Boise State, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington DC and before that, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD. He earned a PhD in Planetary Sciences from the University of Arizona‘s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson AZ and my BS in Physics from Georgia Tech in Atlanta GA. His research focuses primarily on orbital dynamics and transit observations of extrasolar planets, planets outside of our solar system. He also does some planetary science field work, notably on Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa ( and on terrestrial and Martian dust devils.