Introducing Tom Kitching

I am a Lecturer in Astrophysics and a Royal Society University Research Fellow at UCL in London, currently working on dark energy and gravitational lensing. I graduated from Imperial College London (@imperialcollege) and then did a PhD at the University of Edinburgh (@EdinburghUni) on the topic of weak gravitational lensing. After that I was a postdoc at Oxford University (@OxfordAstro) before returning to Edinburgh for further postdoctoral work. I was then awarded a Royal Astronomical Society (@RoyalAstroSoc) postdoctoral Fellowship, and then a Royal Society (@royalsociety) University Research Fellowship. I moved to University College London (@ucl) in 2012 to start my lectureship in Astrophysics at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (@MSSLSpaceLab).

My research is focused on trying to figure out what dark energy is, using a method called “gravitational lensing”. Gravitational lensing is the effect where light from distance galaxies is curved by the warping of spacetime caused by dark matter. Even though we don’t know what dark matter is, we do know that it lenses galaxy light, like a magnifying glass lenses light on Earth. We can use gravitational lensing to measure the distances to galaxies and also how dark matter has clustered together over time – both are measurements that dark energy strongly influences, hence by measuring gravitational lensing we can learn about dark energy.

My main activities at the current time focus on preparing for a new space mission called Euclid (@EC_Euclid)  Euclid is the next cosmology space mission, due for launch in 2020. It will survey three quarters of the extragalactic sky over three quarters the age of the Universe. I am one of the Science Leads in this mission, and help to coordinate the weak lensing activities.

I am also involved in several public outreach activities. For example I contribute and edit two blogs https://msslastro.wordpress.com and https://lateuniverse.wordpress.com . In 2015 I contributed to a MSSL poetry collaboration, and was a co-author of the anthology of scientific poems that was published (Laboratorio, Sidekick books 2015 ), who’s launch party will be this week!

You can find me rest of the year on Twitter @tom_kitching

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Introducing Barbara Cohen

Dr. Barbara Cohen leads the planetary science group at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Originally from upstate New York, Dr. Cohen earned her BS in Geology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and her PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona. She is now a planetary scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center interested in geochronology and geochemistry of planetary samples from the Moon, Mars and asteroids.

Dr. Cohen serves within NASA representing science interests and capabilities within human spaceflight planning. She is a Principal Investigator on multiple NASA research projects, a member of the Mars Exploration Rover mission team still operating the Opportunity rover, and the principal investigator for Lunar Flashlight, a lunar cubesat mission that will be launched in 2018 as an SLS secondary payload. She is the PI for the MSFC Noble Gas Research Laboratory (MNGRL) and is developing a flight version of her noble-gas geochronology technique, the Potassium-Argon Laser Experiment (KArLE), for use on future planetary landers and rovers. She has participated in the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) over three seasons, where she helped recovered more than a thousand pristine samples for the US collection, and asteroid 6186 Barbcohen is named for her.