Lancaster graduates out of this world


Jupiter and moon Io

On Thursday 13th February the US space agency NASA announced the last 4 spacecraft missions chosen for the final stage of selection under the current Discovery Program mission proposal cycle: Four Lancaster graduates now working in senior positions in the USA are involved in these missions. 

Dr Louise Prockter, Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston TX, is Principal Investigator of the Trident mission targeting Neptune's satellite Triton. A Co-Investigator on this mission is Dr Karl Mitchell, Staff Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena CA. 

Dr Ashley Davies, also a Staff Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is a Co-Investigator on the Io Volcano Observer mission which will study Jupiter's satellite Io.  

Dr Lori Glaze, previously Deputy Director of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, was the original Principal Investigator of the Da Vinci+ mission to analyze the atmosphere of Venus. Lori recently stepped down as PI of this mission on her appointment as Director of the Planetary Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington DC, but is still involved as a co-investigator.  

The Moon Diver project, which has Emeritus Professor Lionel Wilson (LEC) on board as a co-investigator, is a mission to place a lander on the surface of the Moon from which a small robot will abseil down the wall of a >70 m deep pit extending through the layers of lava flows in Mare Tranquillitatis. Although the project missed out this time, the team plans to resubmit for the next mission proposal round. 

Dr Prockter obtained her BSc Hons in Environmental Science in 1994, and Drs Davies, Glaze and Mitchell obtained their PhDs working with Professor Wilson in 1988, 1994 and 2002, respectively.

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