Astronomers, including Professor David Jewitt, have witnessed for the first time the breakup of an asteroid into as many as 10 smaller pieces. The discovery is published online March 6 in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Though fragile comet nuclei have been seen falling apart as they near the sun, nothing resembling this type of breakup has been observed before in the asteroid belt. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope photographed the demolition.
Researchers led by Caroline Beghein, assistant professor of Earth, planetary and space sciences in UCLA's College of Letters and Science, used a technique called seismic tomography to study the structure of the Pacific Plate — one of eight to 12 major plates at the surface of the Earth. The technique enabled them to determine the plate's thickness, and to image the interior of the plate and the underlying mantle (the layer between the Earth's crust and outer core), which they were able to relate to the direction of flow of rocks in the mantle.
California's largest collection of meteorites, and the fifth-largest collection in the nation, is on display in the new UCLA Meteorite Gallery, which is free to the public. The museum, located in UCLA's Geology Building (Room 3697) is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on some weekend afternoons; please visit the gallery's website for details.
The NASA THEMIS and ARTEMIS missions drew an impressive crowd at the 4th annual Exploring Your Universe outreach event, held at UCLA in Los Angeles, on Nov. 17, 2013. Representing two of UCLA's active space missions, the exhibit exposed the public to "space weather," the study of the sun's activity and influence on Earth's protective magnetic shield, the magnetosphere. Visitors were intrigued by informative posters and stunning videos on the electrical connection between our sun and the planets, and had the opportunity to ask questions from real space scientists and student researchers-in-training. Visitors also witnessed the debut of a specially built display called the Planeterrella, an up-close demonstration of the solar wind and famed Northern Lights.
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ESS Professor Axel Schmitt has been named a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America. Designation as MSA Fellow recognizes "significant scientific contributions in the fields of crystallography, mineralogy, geochemistry, petrology, or allied sciences" and is limited to 0.5% of membership in any year
Graduate student Chris Snead was honored on October 15, 2013 in a ceremony held by UCLA’s Academic Senate Committee on Teaching. Only five teaching assistants are selected each year for this prestigious teaching award, and Chris is the first from the Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences department.
Watch the video below to hear how Chris challenged his undergraduate students with activities such as building their own telescopes, visiting Griffith Observatory, and charting the phases of the Moon.