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Luke Sollitt Personal/Professional Page

Luke Sollitt   Senior Scientist
Planetary Science Institute


Luke is a Senior Research Scientist at PSI and an Assistant Professor of Physics at The Citadel. He earned a B.A. in German Language and Literature at the University of Maryland in 1991, then worked as a Revenue Officer with the Internal Revenue Service. After his government service, he earned a B.S. degree in Physics in 1997 at the University of Maryland, then M.S. (1999) and Ph.D. (2004) degrees in Physics at Caltech. His thesis pioneered a technique to infer average ionic charge states of solar energetic particles. After graduate school, Luke worked as a Space Systems Engineer and Space Scientist at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, CA. He was part of the three-person team at Northrop Grumman that formulated the original concept for what became NASA’s LCROSS mission to the Moon, and was named one of the mission’s first Co-Investigators when the team was started at NASA/Ames. LCROSS impacted the Moon in 2009, and discovered a reservoir of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the lunar South Pole.  Luke’s research interests include properties of lunar and Martian dust (including dust properties experiments at low pressures), the search for materials of astrobiological significance on planetary bodies, the development of novel instrumentation including laser desorption and LIDAR technology, and planetary astronomy from suborbital platforms. At the Citadel, in addition to his research work, Luke teaches undergraduate physics classes and mentors cadets in their undergraduate research.

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