Episode 98: Why Do We Study Alien Ice?

Meet the Expert: Dr. Will Grundy, Co-investigator of NASA’s New Horizon Project and Planetary Scientist at Lowell Observatory

Dr. Will Grundy

Dr. Grundy does spectroscopic, thermal, and imaging observations of outer Solar System bodies using numerous large ground- and space-based telescopes including Hubble, Keck, Gemini, DCT, IRTF, and MMT. Targets of these observations include icy satellites and Kuiper belt objects. Some of the larger bodies like Pluto, Triton, Eris, and Makemake have volatile surface ices that seasonally interact with their thin atmospheres, leading to a variety of complex and interesting phenomena. To support his observational work, he also studies cryogenic ices and ice mixtures in the Astrophysical Materials Laboratory at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Grundy is involved in projects to discover Kuiper belt binaries and to determine their mutual orbits and masses, using the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as laser guide star adaptive optics techniques at Keck and Gemini observatories.

Dr. Grundy is co-investigator on NASA’s New Horizons mission that encountered the Pluto system in 2015 and the Kuiper belt object Arrokoth in 2019. He heads the mission’s surface composition science theme team.


Listen to Dr. Grundy talk about the I LOVE Pluto festival! 




Get some dry ice (be sure to use it safely!) then do some experiments with it. Add it to flour or sugar in a container and watch what happens.

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Beyond book by Miranda Paul


Highlighted book for this episode! 

Beyond: Discoveries from the Outer Reaches of Space
by Miranda Paul (Author), Sija Hong (Illustrator)







Book List: 

The Hubble Space Telescope: Our Eye on the Universe by Terence Dickinson and Tracy Read

Exoplanets by Seymour Simon

Exploring Exoplanets by Deborah Kops

Gutsy Girls Go For Science: Astronauts: With Stem Projects for Kids by Alicia Klepeis (Author), Hui Li (Illustrator)

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