The University of Central Florida hosts a chapter of an out-of-this-world club, which recently grew by two.
Planetary astronomer Noemi Pinilla-Alonso from the Florida Space Institute and UCF alumna Emily Kramer were honored when asteroids were named after them to recognize their contributions to planetary science research.
That increases the UCF membership in the international club to 14.
The announcement was made earlier this month at the international Asteroids, Comets, Meteors conference in Uruguay. The conference is one of the largest and most important in this area of space research. The naming of asteroids has been a tradition at the conference since 1983 and several astrophysicists from around the world are honored each year.
Asteroid 10689, aka 1981 DZ1, is now officially named Pinillaalonso, and asteroid 10282, aka 1981 ET46, is now officially named Emilykramer in honor of Kramer, who is now a scientist at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She earned her Ph.D. in physics at UCF in 2014 and is now working on NASA’s NEOWISE project. That’s part of NASA’s asteroid-hunting Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. Both asteroids are in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
UCF faculty members Dan Britt, Humberto Campins, Yan Fernández and Joseph Harrington also have asteroids named after them. Raymond Lugo, former director of NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center and current director of FSI is also a member of the club.
For a list of all UCF honorees, click here.