Gaffey Awarded Grant from NASA's Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program
Dr. Mike Gaffey of the Department of Space Studies has been awarded a 3-year, $497,000 grant from the NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics program for his work on “Asteroid Mineralogical Characterizations and Implications”. Dr.’s Sherry Fieber-Beyer and Vishnu Reddy (now at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson) are Co-Investigators. (This is a continuation of previous funding of $956,600 from this program.)
The team will be working on a series of projects related to identifying meteorite parent bodies so that the detailed information from laboratory study of meteorites can be put into a spatial context in the early solar system. They will also be analyzing telescopic spectra for specific asteroids that previous survey work have identified as particularly interesting.
One specific project will involve the detection of oxidized nickel in olivine-rich asteroids to constrain the temperatures and pressures in the solar nebula as a function of distance from the Proto-Sun. This research will also involve a continued investigation of the Baptistina asteroid family, the proposed source of the KT impactor which ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and studies of the Gefion asteroid family, which dynamical studies suggest is the source of the L-chondrite meteorites, the most common type of meteorites falling to Earth.
Gaffey‘s team will be working with several colleagues to develop and improve the diagnostic methodologies used to interpret asteroid spectral data.