AAC Monthly Meeting

  • 11 Jan 2022
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Kika Silva Pla Planetarium & Zoom


Registration is closed


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

7:30 - 7:45 Refreshment break

7:45 - 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).

She was a systems engineer at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, where she was the lead engineer responsible for the design, construction, testing, and in-orbit checkout of the Spitzer Space Telescope’s fine guidance sensor. As a Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) from 2003-2019, Dr. Mainzer specialized in astrophysical instrumentation and infrared astronomy.

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 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!


Dr. Amy Mainzer is one of the world's leading scientists in asteroid detection and planetary defense. Prof. Mainzer uses orbital and ground-based facilities for this work. As PI of NASA's NEOWISE mission, Mainzer has overseen the largest space-based asteroid-hunting project in history. She also served as the Deputy Project Scientist for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. Dr. Mainzer’s research focuses on characterizing the populations of asteroids and comets through statistical measurements of their sizes, orbits, albedos, and rotational states; she also has studied brown dwarfs, ice giant planets, and star forming regions.

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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