Astrophysical Materials Laboratory

The Astrophysical Materials Laboratory is a collaborative effort between Northern Arizona University and Lowell Observatory to understand properties of extraterrestrial materials, especially those that occur on the surfaces of outer solar system bodies. We take a broad approach, using laboratory-based spectroscopy, astronomical observations, and theory to explore the properties of cryogenic systems.

Recent News from the Lab

Are you a PhD student in the NAU Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science? Are you looking for your research rotation topic? We have opportunities available in the lab! 

Will and Ana gave talks at LPSC 2024

Shae presented a poster at the 2024 Laboratory Astrophysics Workshop

Cece presented, "Lightning Across the Solar System" at the Lowell Observatory Astronomy on Tap in January 2024

BP et al. published a paper in Planetary & Space Science titled, "The Equilibrium Vapor Pressures of Ammonia and Oxygen Ices at Outer Solar System Temperatures" [link]

Shae and BP gave talks at the 2024 DPS Meeting

Steve et al. published a paper in The Planetary Science Journal titled, "Optical Constants of Ices Important to Planetary Science from Laboratory Reflectance Spectroscopy" [link]

Will et al. published a paper in Icarus titled, "Laboratory measurement of volatile ice vapor pressures with quartz crystal microbalance" [link]

BP Blakley was part of the 2023 summer REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program and determined vapor pressures of select volatiles with Will and Steve

Flagstaff's KNAU radio station aired an interview of Jennifer and Cece, where they described work being conducted in the lab [recording]. The story was also picked up by Arizona Family News!

Will and Jordan presented posters at the 2023 ACM Conference

Jennifer, Anna, and Cece attended the Titan Through Time VI workshop, with Anna and Cece presenting ongoing results from the lab and Jennifer showing observational work on the variability of vertical haze and methane abundances in the atmosphere

Ana Morgan joined the lab! Ana will complete her second rotation project with us. The project is part of the requirements in the Astronomy & Planetary Science PhD program

Anna presented, "Titan Underground: Karst Systems" at the Lowell Observatory Astronomy on Tap in May 2023

Anna presented, "Phase Behaviors of the Methane–Ethane–Nitrogen System at Titan-like Conditions," during a session of the LPI Virtual Seminar Series in May 2023

Will, Jennifer, and Anna attended LPSC 2023, with Will and Jennifer presenting ongoing results from the lab and Anna showing work conducted on the DraGNS (Dragonfly Gamma-ray and Neutron Spectrometer) instrument

Shae advanced to candidacy!

Will, Jennifer, Anna, Shae, and Jordan presented at the 2023 1st Workshop on Ices in the Solar System

Kendall graduated in fall 2022 with a BS in Physics and Astrophysics. He is now part of the lab as a research assistant 

Jennifer, Anna, Cece, and Jordan attended DPS 2022 in person and Will and Shae attended virtually

Aidan Madden-Watson and Moises Gomez were part of the lab as undergraduate NASA Space Grant students for the 2022-2023 academic year. Aidan is now part of the NAU Astronomy and Planetary Science PhD program and is working with Dr. Cristina Thomas

Alex Jasko was part of the 2022 summer REU program and aided in rebuilding the thin film side of the lab with Steve and Will

Shae et al. published a paper in the Journal of Chemical Physics titled, "Non-Isoplethic Measurement on the Solid-Liquid-Vapor Equilibrium of Binary Mixtures at Cryogenic Temperatures" [link]

Jennifer travelled to Bern, Switzerland for an International Space Science Institute (ISSI) ( team meeting entitled "Ice Beyond Earth: Laboratory Investigations of Planetary Ices." The goal of this meeting was to identify current laboratory capabilities for planetary ices and prioritize future measurements and developments

In spring 2022, Jennifer and Anna traveled to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Orangisation (ANSTO) facility in Sydney, Australia to conduct neutron diffraction experiments on the methane-ethane system with Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely

Kendall presented his space grant project titled, "The Portable Goniometer for Measuring BRDF" in April 2022

Anna presented, "Hydrocarbons in the lakes of Titan" at New Mexico State University in March 2022

Anna participated in the March 2022 Caltech Space Challenge and was part of the winning team

Updated: June 2024