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Will Grundy, Astronomer

Grundy's research involves icy outer Solar System planets, satellites, and Kuiper belt objects, using a broad variety of observational, theoretical, laboratory, and space-based techniques. He is involved in projects to discover Kuiper belt binaries and to determine their mutual orbits and masses, using Hubble Space Telescope, as well as laser guide star adaptive optics techniques at Keck and Gemini. His inventory of Kuiper belt binaries can be found here.

Grundy does spectroscopic, thermal, and imaging observations of outer Solar System bodies using numerous large ground- and space-based telescopes including Hubble, Spitzer, Herschel, Keck, Gemini, VLT, 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, Grundy also studies cryogenic ices and ice mixtures in the laboratory, most recently in a new facility located in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Northern Arizona University. Optical constants from some of these laboratory studies are available here.

He is a co-investigator on NASA's New Horizons mission on its way to encountering the Pluto system in 2015. He heads the mission's surface composition science theme team.

Grundy is an editor for Icarus, the leading scientific journal for solar system studies, and also serves on a variety of national scientific advisory bodies, most recently NASA's Small Bodies Assessment Group.

 

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