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Sky survey grant helps lead to a space science career

Posted by Bruce Betts

16-01-2015 13:15 CST

Topics: near-Earth asteroids, meteors, Planetary Society Projects, asteroids, Shoemaker NEO Grants, optical telescopes

This is part of a series of updates direct from our Shoemaker NEO Grant winners showing their recent progress in defending the Earth from asteroids, in part using grant money from The Planetary Society. The Shoemaker NEO Grant winners, mostly very talented amateurs with amazing telescopic facilities, do some combination of finding, tracking, and/or characterizing near-Earth objects (NEOs).

This update is from Quan-Zhi Ye, a 2007 Shoemaker NEO Grant winner from Guangzhou, China. Quan-Zhi was an 18 year-old college student at the time of the award and the principal investigator of the Lulin Sky Survey, which searched for asteroids and comets from 2006 to 2009. The grant supported the purchase of a laptop and software to run a 16-inch automated telescope at Lulin Observatory in Taiwan.

Quan-Zhi Ye at the Catalina Sky Survey Schmidt telescope

Quan-Zhi Ye at the Catalina Sky Survey Schmidt telescope
Shoemaker Near-Earth Object (NEO) Grant winner Quan-Zhi Ye at the Catalina Sky Survey Schmidt telescope located on Mt. Bigelow just north of Tucson, Arizona.

Quan-Zhi is now a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Here's what he had to say about his current work in meteor studies:

I would like to let you know that I am still around, seven years after receiving the grant. In fact, I just passed the qualification oral defense and got the Ph.D. candidacy yesterday. I am still in the NEO field -- not directly doing NEO observations, but am working on meteor studies, they are essentially impact events although caused by smallest asteroids/comets! During my spare time, I do still occasionally use the telescopes in China to do NEO follow-ups.

I am attaching a picture of myself taken at the Catalina Schmidt, during the DPS meeting in Tucson a few weeks ago; Eric Christensen (PI of Catalina Sky Survey) kindly organized a tour to the Catalina and Mt. Lemon Observatories -- after doing NEO work for almost a decade, I am physically at these "holy places" at last!

You may like to hear that the laptop I bought with the Grant is still in use today, I am still doing most of my research work -- from doing NEO observations to drafting papers -- on it. You may remember that earlier this year I wrote a guest blog for the Planetary Society about the ongoing outreach effort in China in support of space exploration, taking advantage of the landing of the Yutu rover.

Thank you so much for making the story possible.

Help The Planetary Society support the hunt for near-Earth asteroids:

Donate to the Shoemaker NEO Grant Program today!

See other posts from January 2015


Or read more blog entries about: near-Earth asteroids, meteors, Planetary Society Projects, asteroids, Shoemaker NEO Grants, optical telescopes


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An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


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