PSI Scientist Hosts Planetary Scientists in South Africa

Category: Cover Story

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PSI Senior Research Scientist Amanda Sickafoose hosted US based scientists Shawn Brooks from JPL, Mark Lewis from Trinity College and Sanlyn Buxner from PSI in Cape Town, South Africa for a team meeting related to small-body rings in the Solar System. The science of the project is modeling the dynamics of particles that go around small bodies (asteroid-like) in the Solar System to better understand how these rings are similar and different to rings around large planets such as Saturn. In addition to scientific collaboration, the scientists met with outreach professionals at the South African Astronomical Observatory, gave a presentation at Summerdale High School in Mitchells Plain, and visited with the Hermanus ASSA (Astronomical Society of Southern Africa).

This visit was the kick-off to a collaboration between astronomers, planetary scientists, outreach professionals, amateur astronomers, and schools in both the United States and South Africa that is funded by the National Science Foundation. The project will engage youth in both countries in planetary science content to support their overall learning in math and science and will promote sharing of successful activities. Scientists in both countries will continue to give presentations to schools and astronomy clubs, support new exhibits in astronomy, and promote cross country collaboration.

sanlyn south africa meeting

Students sort images from Mars and Earth at Summerdale High School in Mitchells Plain. Credit: Sanlyn Buxner.