The goal of the Space Studies Colloquium Series is to bring guest researchers from the astronautical and space science communities, in both industry and academia, to support space-related scholarships in the Department of Space Studies at UND and other North Dakota institutions of higher education. Guest researchers will be invited by the Department of Space Studies to give a seminar in their area of professional expertise, guest lecture in existing courses offered through the department, and consult on space-related research with faculty and students. Guest researchers will be invited from a variety of backgrounds and research areas, such as space engineering, space life sciences, planetary sciences, astrobiology, earth system sciences, and space policy. In addition to the Department of Space Studies, guest speakers will interact with faculty, researchers, and students in a number of programs at UND including the School of Aerospace Sciences, College of Business, and the Departments of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Geography, Geology, Physics, and Political Science.
April 27, 2020
Chief of Academics, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School
Mr. O'Connor is the Chief of Academics at US Naval Test Pilot School. He is a retired Navy Commander and Engineering test pilot with over 3000 hours in 90 helicopter, tactical jet, and multi-engine aircraft. He has over thirty-one years of defense acquisition experience and has held executive-level positions in research, program management, and aircraft manufacturing, production, and repair. He has a master's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School. He has professional education experience as a college math teacher, graduate-level engineering lecturer, test pilot school academic instructor, and test pilot flight instructor.
The presentation will describe how Navy Test Pilot School has contributed to the exploration of space. It will describe how pilots and engineers are trained and educated to be test pilots and flight test engineers and how these skills of observation, analysis, and articulation prepare them potentially for space flight.
February 24, 2020(watch)
Principal Scientist, The Aerospace Corporation
Dr. DeLucas is a Principal Scientist at The Aerospace Corporation. He was previously a Professor in the School of Optometry, Senior Scientist and Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center X-ray Core Facility, and Director of the Center for Structural Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. DeLucas received five degrees from UAB culminating in a Doctor of Optometry degree and a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry. He also received honorary Doctor of Science degrees from The Ohio State University, Ferris State University, SUNY College of Optometry, and the Illinois College of Optometry. He has published 164 peer-reviewed research articles in various scientific journals, co-authored and edited several books on protein crystal growth and membrane proteins, and is a co-inventor on 43 patents involving protein crystal growth, novel biotechnologies, and structure-based drug design.
DeLucas was a member of the 7 person crew of Space Shuttle Columbia for Mission "STS-50", called the United States Microgravity Laboratory-1 (USML-1) Spacelab mission. Columbia launched on June 25, 1992, returning on July 9. He traveled more than 6 million miles, completing 221 orbits of earth and logging over 331 hours in space. In 1994 and 1995, Dr. DeLucas served as the Chief Scientist for the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In 2011, Dr. DeLucas received the UAB President's Award for Excellence in Teaching, was the recipient of the Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentorship in the UAB Graduate School (April 2015), an Inductee as a Fellow in the National Academy of Inventors (December 2013), and recipient of the Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award for his outstanding community and educational outreach activities (2012). In 1991, he received the First UAB Annual Distinguished Alumnus Award, and in 2010 received the honorary Alumnus Award, Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UAB (to recognize outstanding alumni and scholarship recipients in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics). In 2002 he was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame, and in 2004 he was recognized as a Top Ten Finalist for the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Birmingham Business Journal. In 1999 Dr. DeLucas was recognized as one of the scientists who could shape the 21st century in an article published by The Sunday Times of London titled "The Brains Behind the 21st Century". Also in 1999, Dr. DeLucas was the recipient of the "Order of Rio Branco Award, Rank of Commander" from the Brazilian Government on behalf of the President of Brazil. The Order of Rio Branco is awarded to recognize and celebrate the merits of Brazilian and foreign individuals who have significantly contributed to the promotion of Brazil's relation with the world. Dr. DeLucas devoted a significant amount of time in impoverished regions of Brazil, giving inspirational talks to students in elementary schools and high schools and to the public.
Dr. DeLucas, an optometrist, biochemist, and former payload specialist astronaut, will discuss examples of human factors that affected performance on his 14-day mission on the Columbia Space Shuttle. He will review some of the physiological effects of long-duration space flight and will discuss various aspects of his astronaut training in preparation for his mission, STS-50.
February 10, 2020(watch)
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Michael Peter Lucas was born in Leesburg, Virginia and was raised in his hometown of Annandale, Virginia. Michael attended St. Michael's Catholic School in Annandale through the eighth grade. Despite very little coursework in science at catholic school, Michael realized when he was "knee-high" that he would become a scientist. Michael attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, VA, where he joined the astronomy club and competed in athletics on the track team.
Michael became a founding staff member of Florida Gulf Coast University, where he co-founded the Evelyn L. Egan Astronomical Observatory that was built on the campus of that institution in 2002. Shortly thereafter in 2003 he earned his B.A. in Geology at the University of South Florida (USF). Before returning to USF for graduate studies, Michael enjoyed a successful laboratory career, first as a chemist at the lab bench, then as a manager in various private and governmental laboratory settings. Michael earned his M.S. in Geology at USF in 2011 and afterward moved to Knoxville, TN to pursue a Ph.D. in Planetary Science in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee (UTK), where he earned his doctorate in 2017.
Michael has held numerous fellowships throughout his academic career, including a Florida Space Grant Fellowship and the Richard H. Davis Endowed Fellowship in Geology during his master's program. During his doctoral program at UTK, he was awarded an Oscar R. Ashley Fellowship and was also a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow. Michael currently is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, UTK, where he uses the mineralogic, geochemical, and spectral analyses of meteorites, integrated with astronomical observations of their asteroid parent bodies using ground-based telescopes, to explore the petrogenesis, composition, and evolution of the early Solar System. Michael owns too many backyard telescopes, enjoys music, backpacking, and model rocketry. Michael believes strongly in public service and stays active in cancer patient advocacy and outreach.
Most asteroids are very far away, making it difficult to ascertain their compositions. The direct method to determine the composition of an asteroid is to send a spacecraft to grab a sample from its surface and deliver it back to Earth. But, sample return missions are expensive, and presently only a few asteroids are targeted for sample return missions. Conveniently, meteorites are pieces of asteroids and therefore represent essentially "free" asteroid samples. These samples represent "time capsules" for the study of the early evolution of the Solar System. Furthermore, the study of asteroids is greatly aided by ground-based telescopes, which are highly useful in the field of asteroid science because the number of objects is so great (~1.5 x 106 asteroids >1 km in the Main Belt) that only a tiny fraction can ever be visited by spacecraft. In lieu of asteroid sample return missions, the mineralogical and spectral study of meteorites in the laboratory, combined with ground-based telescopic spectral observations of asteroids, affords the best possibility of linking meteorite groups with the surface composition of their parent asteroid(s).
In his presentation, Dr. Lucas will begin with background material on establishing asteroid-meteorite connections using both ground-based telescopes and the laboratory analysis of meteorites. The presentation will then focus on asteroid science using ground-based observatories. Dr. Lucas will describe the results of his comprehensive telescopic spectral survey entitled Hungaria Asteroid Region Telescopic Spectral Survey (HARTSS), where he investigated the surface compositions and meteorite analogs of 92 Hungaria asteroids. Next, the focus of the presentation will shift to the laboratory to describe Dr. Lucas' work on developing correlations between the mineralogy and spectral properties of primitive achondrite meteorites, specifically the acapulcoite-lodranite clan. Finally, Dr. Lucas will present his latest research regarding the thermal histories of ordinary chondrite (H, L, and LL) parent asteroids. This work uses a novel Rare-Earth-Element (REE) thermometric method to show that parent bodies of ordinary chondrite meteorites most likely experienced violent thermal histories, which involved fragmentation-reassembly, rather than quiescent thermal histories required by the classic onion shell model.
January 27, 2020(watch)
Principal Systems Engineer, USGS Earth Resources Observations and Science Center
Jon Christopherson is a Principal Systems Engineer with KBR, the technical services contractor to the USGS EROS Center. At EROS he is a lead in the New Missions area where they work to stay abreast of the many new Earth observing satellites being launched, their data quality, and usefulness to Science.
Prior to EROS, Christopherson worked for an Aerospace and Defense company building the sensor for Landsat 7 in Santa Barbara. His career has taken him to 24 countries and all fifty states while he has lived in Southern California, Silicon Valley, Georgia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and now South Dakota.
Christopherson has a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering and was in the first UND Space Studies class to get their Master's degrees via distance learning in 1998.
Systems Engineer, USGS Earth Resources Observations and Science Center
Shankar Ramaseri holds a Master's Degree in Space Studies from UND. He currently works as a Systems Engineer for KBR, a technical contractor to USGS EROS Center. His work at EROS is focused on researching remote sensing systems and assisting with system characterization. He also works on orbit analyses of remote sensing satellites. Shankar holds a Bachelors in Aeronautical Engineering from JNTU, India. While in India, he worked as a project engineer for Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) researching orbits and sensors. Shankar's interests lie in studying orbital dynamics of satellites around asteroids, remote sensing, and space policy.
Observation of Earth's land areas from space began with the launch of the first Landsat in 1972. In recent years there has been almost explosive growth in Earth Observation (EO) from space as hundreds of satellites have been launched in the last several years. The presenters, both from the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls will introduce the colloquium to EROS and what it does, and also discuss the recent rapid growth in remote sensing from space and its implications and opportunities.