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Applicant -- Using stellar occultations to study the outer Solar System: including a sprinkling of dusty plasmas, asteroids, and instrumentation

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My main research area over the last few years has been ground-based observations of the outer Solar System, primarily using the technique of stellar occultations. This method provides an accurate way to constrain the physical properties of the foreground objects, which is particularly useful for bodies that are distant and/or faint. I’ll present highlights from successful occultation observations, including by Pluto (monitoring the evolving atmosphere), centaurs Chariklo and Chiron (detecting jets/rings/debris), and TNOs 55636, Vanth, and 2014 MU69. I will also briefly discuss a few other areas of research that could be of interest to the PSI community; (i) dusty plasma experiments, with applications to airless bodies, (ii) asteroid light curves and taxonomic classifications, specifically taking advantage of South Africa’s location and facilities, and (iii) instrumentation projects for both occultation work and general use at the SAAO.

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