Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences News

Asteroid-Naming Contest for Kids Involves UT Professor’s Work

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at asteroid 1999 RQ36. Photo credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

Josh Emery, assistant professor in earth and planetary sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, works on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, which is now hosting a contest that will allow kids under the age of 18 to name an asteroid. The international contest will help scientists find a new name for asteroid 1996 RQ36. Emery said the contest is “a good way to get students to really think about exploration and the human spirit.”

Wall-E on Mars?

Linda Kah, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences, and her Mars Curiosity camera team call this picture “Wall-E.”

What’s Your Big Idea?—Hap McSween

Big Orange Big Ideas

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are sharing the big ideas that make a difference in their world. Harry “Hap” McSween, Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, has the big idea of engaging kids in science and engineering by letting them see first-hand that science is fun. McSween will speak at the College of Arts and Sciences Pregame Showcase at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 15, in the University Center Ballroom.

Student Commands Mars Rover

UT physics doctoral student Chris Tate is working with Jeffrey Moersch, associate professor in UT's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, on the Curiosity mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Children are often mystified by remote control cars and how they can control them with a device while standing several feet away from them. This past week, Chris Tate was mystified by the same power—only he was controlling something 150 million miles away, on another planet. The UT physics doctoral student had the rare opportunity to control one of the science instruments on NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars.

Two UT Scientists to Begin Searching for Potential Habitats for Life on Mars

Jeffrey Moersch

NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars Sunday night. Then, the work began for two UT professors searching for potentially habitable environments on the red planet. Linda Kah and Jeffrey Moersch, associate professors in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, are an integral part of the NASA team working on the rover.

UT professors helping to lead mission to Mars

WATE-TV’s Jill McNeal interviewed Jeffrey Moersch, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, before he headed to California for his Mars Mission. He and Linda Kah, also an associate professor in the department, are an integral part of the NASA team working on the Curiosity rover.

TIME: How to Weigh an Asteroid — and Why You Should Care

The work of a UT professor has been featured in TIME. Josh Emery, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences, has helped reveal a rare orbital shift and the density of an asteroid that will pass close to Earth.

Knox County Teacher Wins Marian E. Oates Teacher Enrichment Award

Jamie Stapleton

Jamie Stapleton, a sixth-grade teacher at Whittle Springs Middle School in Knox County, is the 2012 recipient of the Marian E. Oates Teacher Enrichment Award from UT. The award, which includes a scholarship for professional development, will allow Stapleton to spend the summer collaborating with Professor Mike McKinney, director of environmental studies in UT’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.