Dr. Faith Vilas

December 2019 – TREX Deputy PI Faith Vilas Honored with AGU Fred Whipple Award

  • Faith Vilas has been named the 2019 recipient of the Fred Whipple Award, the highest honor given by the Planetary Sciences section of the American Geophysical Union. Her groundbreaking work includes her discovery and analysis of subtle absorption features in reflectance spectra of darker – presumed primitive – asteroids. In particular, this includes a spectral feature centered near 0.7 µm, which is caused by light reflected from minerals created by water altering the structure and composition of underlying rocks – evidence of water’s action throughout history in the asteroid belt. Learn more in the Press Release.
Dr. Melissa Lane
Dr. Melissa Lane

October 2019 – TREX Co-I Melissa Lane is announced a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America

  • Co-I Dr. Melissa Lane was elected a 2020 Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America, citing research that has “… contributed significantly to the advancement of mineralogy, crystallography, geochemistry, petrology, or allied sciences and whose scientific contribution utilized mineralogical studies or data.” She was one of twelve newly elected Fellows world-wide.

July 2019TREX team members participate in Apollo 11 Anniversary Events across the country!

Dr. Amanda Hendrix at Apollopalooza
Dr. Ryan Watkins

May 2019 – TREX’s Ryan Watkins on Blue Origin’s Lunar Mission Science Advisory Board

  • TREX Research Scientist Ryan Watkins has been named a member of the Science Advisory Board for the Blue Origin lunar transportation service, Blue Moon. “My role has been to provide feedback regarding the Blue Moon lander design and landing site selection. The Board members provide feedback on their subsystem designs and payload capabilities,” Watkins said. “My expertise has mainly been on landing site selection and some general feedback related to plume effects during landing – but at this stage we are all providing any kind of input we can regarding what we think is feasible and reasonable for their design concepts, from a science perspective.” Science Advisory Board members are consultants to Blue Origin, not full-time employees. Blue Origin’s Blue Moon project is a scalable lunar transportation service that is designed to be able to land anywhere on the surface of the Moon. For more information on Blue Moon, visit Read more in the press release.
Dr. Darby Dyar

March 2019 – TREX’s Darby Dyar Selected to Investigate Untouched Lunar Material

  • M. Darby Dyar has been selected by NASA to lead a team in the study of pristine lunar samples returned to Earth by NASA’s Apollo spacecraft almost 50 years ago. The team will study pristine lunar volcanic glass beads in specially curated materials from Apollo 15, 16, and 17 that will be released by the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis (ANGSA) program. These samples have been locked up untouched since they were returned to Earth in 1971-72. Results will be compared to previously studied samples, some which have been exposed to air in the time since the 1970s, which will be analyzed using the same methods. Results will determine if chemical changes have taken place under terrestrial conditions despite our most careful curation procedures. Read more in the press release.

March 2019 Lunar Water Molecules Hop as Surface Temperature Increases

  • Small amounts of water are attached to lunar grains on the dayside of the Moon and migrate around depending on surface temperature, as reported in a new paper by Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Amanda Hendrix. Read more in the press release.
Dr. Darby Dyar

September 2018Darby Dyar wins the SSERVI Shoemaker Award

  • The 2018 Eugene Shoemaker Distinguished Scientist Medal, named after American geologist and one of the founders of planetary science, Eugene Shoemaker (1928-1997), is awarded to Dr. M. Darby Dyar of the Planetary Science Institute and Mt. Holyoke College for her significant scientific contributions throughout the course of her career. The award includes a certificate and medal with the Shakespearian quote “And he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night.” Read more on SSERVI announcement.

September 2017TREX’s Prettyman Receives NASA Medal For Dawn Research

  • Senior Scientist Thomas Prettyman was honored for his work on NASA’s Dawn mission that explored the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. The NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal was presented Sept. 6 to Prettyman “For exceptional scientific return and major discoveries that resulted at Vesta and Ceres from the successful Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector Investigation on Dawn,” said NASA’s award citation. Read more in the press release.

March 2017Planetary Science Institute’s Toolbox for Research and Exploration Project Funded for $5.5 Million

  • PSI has been awarded $5.5 million by NASA to be a research node of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to advance basic and applied research for lunar and planetary science, and advance human exploration of the solar system. The node, known as the Toolbox for Research and Exploration (TREX) project, will be led by PSI Senior Scientist Amanda Hendrix, the Principal Investigator, and funded for five years. The Deputy Principal Investigator for TREX is PSI Senior Scientist Faith Vilas. An additional 18 PSI scientists are on the team. Read more in the press release.