UND Space Studies faculty gets NASA award to probe asteroids
Paul Hardersen to focus on sharpening our understanding of this early Solar System “debris”
Paul Hardersen, associate professor in the University of North Dakota Department of Space Studies, was recently awarded a three year, $276,000 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Planetary Astronomy Program research grant to study basaltic asteroids in the main asteroid belt.
“Asteroids, the most primitive material from solar system formation about 4.5 billion years ago, inform us about the early physical and chemical conditions in the solar system,” said Hardersen, who also runs the UND Observatory.
This research, which will take advantage of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, aims to verify the basaltic nature of V-type asteroids around Asteroid (4) Vesta as defined by the NASA Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft.
The second goal is to hunt for basaltic asteroids in the outer main belt. Result from both efforts will help asteroid and planetary scientists to better understand the collisional and heating environment in the early solar system.