AAC Monthly Meeting - January 2022

  • 11 Jan 2022
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Online webinar using ZOOM




7:00 - 7:15 General Meeting & Announcements
7:15 - 7:30 Short topic presentation by a club member
7:30 - Public Presentation


Dr. Amy Mainzer

Professor, Planetary Sciences

Professor, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

Member of the Graduate Faculty

University of Arizona

Topic: Near-Earth Orbit (NEO) Surveyor Mission


Planetary defense has become a high priority program for NASA, and rightly so.  Dr. Mainzer will talk about the NEO Surveyor mission, for which she is the principal investigator (PI).  This is a planned space-based infrared telescope designed to carry out a comprehensive survey of the Solar System for potentially hazardous asteroids. The mission's launch is currently scheduled for the first half of 2026. The mission will be a successor to the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission, an Earth-orbiting satellite that uses infrared sensors to characterize asteroids and comets, which Dr. Mainzer was also the PI for.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Mainzer received a B.Sc. in Physics from Stanford University with honors (1996), an M.Sc. in Astronomy from California Institute of Technology (2000), and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles (2003). She did her PhD thesis on an infrared camera for NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

Dr. Mainzer worked as an engineer at Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center from 1995 to 2003. She built and delivered the fine guidance sensor for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Dr. Mainzer is currently serving as the Chair of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS), the world's largest professional society of planetary scientists. She is also serving as the Chair of NASA's Planetary Advisory Committee (PAC).

She is also active in education and public outreach.  She appears in several episodes of the History Channel series The Universe. She also appears in the documentary featurette "Stellar Cartography: On Earth" included on the Star Trek Generations home video release (March 2010). Mainzer is also in the 2016 documentary about the life of Leonard Nimoy and the effect of Spock on popular culture called "For the Love of Spock", which was directed by Leonard Nimoy's son Adam Nimoy. She serves as the science consultant, co-executive producer and host for the live-action interstitials on the PBS Kids series Ready Jet Go!


Prof. Mainzer's research focuses on understanding the populations of small bodies in our solar system, including characterizing their basic physical and dynamical properties and the potential impact hazards they may pose to Earth. Prof. Mainzer uses orbital and ground-based facilities for this work.

Interesting fact - Asteroid 234750 Amymainzer, discovered by astronomers of the NEAT program at Palomar Observatory in 2002, is named after her.

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