Two Auggies on the Mercury MESSENGER team

messengerLast week, just past midnight after St. Patrick’s Day, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft successfully slipped into an orbit around Mercury, the innermost planet. This was a difficult maneuver against the pull of the sun, and the groups of science teams around the country who have worked on the Mercury MESSENGER project for seven years were elated, to say the least.

Among these scientists are two Augsburg physics graduates — Brian Anderson ’82 and George Ho ’91. Both work at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL), which serves as the manager of the Mercury MESSENGER project for NASA. Continue reading “Two Auggies on the Mercury MESSENGER team”

Convocation celebrates Augsburg's ties to space

sverdrupOn Jan. 14, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft made its first flyby of the planet Mercury — the first by any Earth craft in over 30 years. Behind the scenes of this long-awaited return to Mercury, there was an Augsburg connection: Distinguished Alumnus Brian Anderson ’82 is the mission’s Magnetometer Instrument Scientist. One of the main goals of the Messenger mission is to understand the nature of that dense planet’s magnetic field.

Anderson’s participation in the exploration of Mercury is the latest product of Augsburg’s long tradition of space-science excellence. It began in 1970, when Augsburg alumnus Ken Erickson returned to Minneapolis to take up a joint appointment as an Associate Professor of Physics at Augsburg and as a

researcher in the space physics laboratory of Professor John Winckler of the

University of Minnesota. Since then, an increasing number of Augsburg physics students have participated each year in research projects with Augsburg faculty. Continue reading “Convocation celebrates Augsburg's ties to space”