Lowell’s long tradition of research on small bodies in the solar system continues today.
Henry Roe’s and Will Grundy’s interests focus on icy bodies in the outer solar system, including Saturn’s largest moon Titan, as well as Pluto. Roe was one of the co-discovers of methane clouds in Titan’s atmosphere, and Grundy is a member of the science team for the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. Larry Wasserman has also long been involved in the determination of Kuiper belt object orbits through Lowell’s Deep Ecliptic Survey.
Dave Schleicher’s major research interests include the origins and evolution of comets, as discerned from studies of physical properties and chemical composition both as individual objects and as a class. Because comets are believed to be the most pristine objects remaining from the time of solar system formation available for chemical studies, they provide a unique probe of these conditions. Five molecular species are routinely measured as part of Dave’s program of compositional studies of comets in the visible and near-ultraviolet portions of the spectrum.
Nick Moskovitz is Lowell’s asteroid expert, working with Brian Skiff on the detection and characterization of near-Earth asteroids. Nick studies how these objects provide insights on processes of planetary formation and evolution. This work involves observations of main belt and near-Earth asteroids and numerical models for the thermal evolution of planetesimals.
For years, Ted Bowell (now retired) directed the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search (LONEOS). The program recently completed a ten-year search for Earth-approaching asteroids and comets using a fully automated 0.6-m Schmidt telescope situated on the Observatory’s research site at Anderson Mesa. During its 10 years of operation, LONEOS discovered 289 Near-Earth asteroids and 42 comets, and in the process, took some 450,000 individual exposures of 130,000 regions on the sky.