Introducing Fred Calef III

This week we have Fred Calef III hosting astrotweeps. Fred graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in Geological Sciences in 2010. His dissertation was on fresh small rayed impact craters on Mars, looking at ejecta retention rates and what they tell us about the current environment and geomorphic evolution of the surface. He postdoc’d at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) via the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) doing landing site analysis for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL, aka Curiosity) as well as trained as an Engineering Camera Payload Uplink Lead (ECAM-PUL) for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity. Towards the end of his postdoc, he was hired at JPL as the Geospatial Information Scientist, aka ‘Keeper of the Maps’, and Co-Localization Scientist for MSL. Besides work on MER and MSL, Fred is on the InSight lander science team as ‘Keeper of the Map’ for placement of a seismometer (SEIS) and heatprobe (HP3) as well as doing landing site analysis for InSight and the Mars2020 rover. You can find Fred on twitter at @cirquelar


Introducing Gal Sarid

Gal Sarid has recently joined the Florida Space Institute, at the University of Central Florida, as an associate scientist in planetary sciences (late 2014). Before moving to the Sunshine State he spent some time as a postdoctoral research associate in the Aloha State (Institute for Astronomy and NASA Astrobiology Institute at the University of Hawaii Manoa) and The People’s Republic of Cambridge (Earth & Planetary Sciences department at Harvard). He completed his PhD in Planetary Sciences (with a heavy background in physics and astronomy) at Tel Aviv University, Israel, overlooking the Mediterranean and working with Prof. Dina Prialnik.

He works on topics involving thermal and collisional evolution of planetary bodies (comets, asteroids and terrestrial planets) and early compositional evolution in the solar system. Most of his research focuses on relating thermo-physical, chemical and dynamical properties of various small body populations to their origin conditions and evolution pathways. The ultimate goal is to understand how planetary systems arrange themselves and promote habitable conditions.

With a general inquiring sense, Gal is willing and able to chat, collaborate and work on any interesting question in the realm of planetary physics. Now let’s discuss one of the more exciting times to be involved in space exploration!

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.

Introducing Julie Rathbun

Julie Rathbun is a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and a professor of Physics at the University of Redlands. She received her BS in Physics from the State University of New York at Buffalo, the first in her family to receive a college degree. Her PhD is in Astronomy from Cornell University where she focused on planetary science and surface heat flow processes. While she never used a research-class telescope during her Phd program, she has since used NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea to study active volcanoes on Io, a moon of Jupiter. Julie has also used data from Galileo, Voyager, Cassini, and New Horizons in her quest to understand how Io’s volcanoes work. Her favorite volcano (and the one she has studied most extensively) is Loki Patera, the largest volcano in the Solar System. While Io is her first love, she’s also interested heat flow on other satellites, particularly Europa and Enceladus.

She is currently on sabbatical from the University of Redlands, so is not teaching this semester. But, when teaching, you can find her teaching upper level physics classes and introductory classes for non-majors. She has developed two new courses for non-science major students: Physics of Disneyland and Cosmorphology: Geology and Art, the later she co-teaches with Monica Aiello, professional artist at Eurekus in Denver, CO. She normally tweets at @LokiVolcano.