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Marshall Center Chat Expert Bios
December 6, 2013

Chat Expert Bill Cooke

The lead of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, Dr. Bill Cooke specializes in the meteoroid environment and its effects on space vehicles of all sorts. While a graduate student at the University of Florida, he worked on instruments flying onboard balloons, the Space Shuttle, Giotto (European mission to Halley's Comet), and the Long Duration Exposure Facility.After obtaining his PhD, he came to work at Marshall Space Flight Center as a member of the Space Environments Team. When not occupied with meteor observations and shower forecasts, he dabbles as a free- lance author for magazines and is a mentor for the Team America Rocketry Challenge and NASA's Student Launch Initiative rocketry programs.

Chat Expert Mitzi Adams

In her career at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Mitzi Adams has conducted research for a variety of solar missions, including work with Marshall's vector magnetograph, a pioneering instrument that studied magnetic fields in sunspots; SOHO, a mission to study the sun from its deep core to the outer corona; and Hinode, a project to improve our understanding of the sun's magnetic field and the mechanisms that drive solar eruptions.

As a guest lecturer for science courses at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Adams works to sustain enthusiasm and engagement at the college level. She has led several sessions of "Theories of the Universe," a class that explores how various cultures perceive the cosmos, discussing the astronomy-savvy Maya and Inca civilizations of Central and South America, respectively. She's well-versed in the subject matter - and not just the astronomy. An accomplished hiker and an avid student of ancient cultures, Adams has repeatedly vacationed in Peru and Guatemala to visit the ruins of these lost empires.

"That's what's great about astronomy as a career," she said. "It's a fascinating blend of sciences - physics, chemistry, geology, history, mathematics - that keeps it new and exciting and makes it relevant to our everyday lives."

Since 1970, Adams has taken part in four total-solar-eclipse studies in Georgia (March 1970), Chile (November 1994), Romania (August 1999) and Africa (June 2001). She is looking forward to driving north toward Nashville for another one closer to home in August 2017.

Chat Expert Danielle Moser

Danielle Moser has been working in the Space Environments group at the Marshall Center for eight years. Her work includes modeling meteor showers, analyzing lunar meteoroid impact data, and managing the Meteoroid Environment Office all-sky meteor cameras.

More About Chat Expert Rhiannon Blaauw

Rhiannon is the newest addition to the Meteoroid Environment Office. She hails from London, Ontario, Canada where she recently completed her Masters in Astronomy at the University of Western Ontario. During her studies she gained experience in meteor physics, finding mass distribution indices using a meteor radar. She is excited to be working for the Meteoroid Environment Office and enjoys the diversity in her projects, which include lunar impact observation and comet outburst monitoring.

Rhiannon comes from a large family, the eldest of five kids, who are slowly spreading out across America from Michigan to Illinois to Idaho, while her parents reside in Chicago. In her spare time Rhiannon loves connecting with her family as well as reading theology.

More About Chat Expert Renee Weber

Dr. Renee Weber is a planetary scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. She serves as the project scientist for the Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project, a software project designed to provide lunar maps and surface feature information to mission planners and other lunar researchers. Renee's scientific research focuses on planetary seismology, in particular the re-processing of seismic data from the Apollo missions. She is involved in several international efforts with goals of sending modern, broad-band seismometers to both the moon and Mars.

More About Chat Expert Melissa McGrath

Melissa A. McGrath serves as the Chief Scientist in the Science & Technology Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. She has undergraduate degrees in Physics and Astronomy, and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Virginia. She is a planetary scientist who specializes in studies of the gas giant planets and their satellites, particularly Io, Europa, and Ganymede, the large satellites of Jupiter. She has been the Principal Investigator on numerous space- and ground-based science investigations, and has lectured world-wide on her scientific results. She also has extensive experience in science and technical management and leadership, having served as the Chair of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences, as an Associate Scientific Editor for The Astronomical Journal, and the Deputy Director of the Solar System Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C.

More About Chat Expert Jonathan Cirtain

Dr. Cirtain is an expert in Heliophysics and is the Hinode project scientist as well as the co-investigator on Hinode's onboard X-Ray Telescope. He also has served on the science team for the Atmospheric Imaging Array, an instrument on the recently launched Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite. Additionally, Cirtain serves as the principle investigator for two sounding rocket experiments: the High Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) and the Solar Ultraviolet Magnetograph Instrument, or SUMI. Hi-C will be launched from White Sands Missile Range on June 19, 2012 and SUMI will complete its second launch on June 12, 2012, also from White Sands.

Cirtain also is the institutional principle investigator for the Solar Wind Electrons, Alpha and Protons instrument or SWEAP, slated to launch no later than 2018 aboard the Solar Probe + mission to explore unprecedented regions in space, transforming our understanding of the sun and its effects on the solar system.

Cirtain came to Marshall in 2007 as an astrophysicist.

Among his numerous past achievements and honors, Cirtain received the 2011 NASA Medal for Exceptional Achievement for his work developing solar physics instrumentation and received the 2011 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

He graduated from the University of Memphis in May 2001 with bachelor's degrees in both physics and mathematics. He received a doctorate in physics from Montana State University in 2005, where he was a NASA GSRP fellow and a Harvard pre-doctoral fellow. He has 31 refereed papers, including 10 first-author journal articles.

More About Chat Expert Alphonse Sterling
Dr. Alphonse Sterling is an astrophysicist specializing in solar science at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. For six years he was stationed in Japan as the NASA chief planner for the Hinode solar satellite. His specialty is studying the onset of both large-scale and small-scale solar eruptions. He has been on several total solar eclipse expeditions for research purposes and pedagogical purposes. Currently he resides in Huntsville where he continues his research.
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