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IC Physics Professor Is Working on a Mission to Outer Space

Written by 4/5/2010

SAGE, MoonRise, and OSIRIS-REx. These three finalists each have a year and about $3 million to convince NASA that their mission should be the one to join its current New Frontiers programs.

Beth Ellen Clark Joseph, associate professor and chair of physics at Ithaca College, is a member of the team working on OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer), which would study the geology of a primitive asteroid.

“Our plan is to navigate a spacecraft to the surface of the asteroid, acquire samples, and return them to earth for analysis,” Clark Joseph explains. “Our target asteroid contains records of geologic conditions that were in place before the solar system was formed. Studying the samples will increase our understanding of how the planets were formed as well as give us insights into the sources of prebiotic organic compounds necessary for the origin of life.”

If OSIRIS-REx gets the go-ahead (and up to $650 million for development), IC students will be able to collaborate with Clark Joseph on the project. “It will be a wonderful opportunity to give Ithaca College students the chance to conduct cutting-edge research in planetary astronomy and astrophysics,” says Clark Joseph.



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