The Europa Thermal Emission Imaging System (E-THEMIS) Investigation for the Europa Clipper Mission

Space Science Reviews Springer Nature 220:4 (2024) 38


Philip R Christensen, John R Spencer, Greg L Mehall, Mehul Patel, Saadat Anwar, Matthew Brick, Heather Bowles, Zoltan Farkas, Tara Fisher, David Gjellum, Andrew Holmes, Ian Kubik, Melora Larson, Alan Levy, Edgar Madril, Paolo Masini, Thomas McEwen, Mark Miner, Neal Nickles, William O’Donnell, Carlos Ortiz, David Osterman, Daniel Pelham, Andrew Rudeen, Tyler Saunders, Robert Woodward, Oleg Abramov, Paul O Hayne, Carly JA Howett, Michael T Mellon, Francis Nimmo, Sylvain Piqueux, Julie A Rathbun

A contact binary satellite of the asteroid (152830) Dinkinesh

Nature Nature Research 629:8014 (2024) 1015-1020


Harold F Levison, Simone Marchi, Keith S Noll, John R Spencer, Thomas S Statler, James F Bell, Edward B Bierhaus, Richard Binzel, William F Bottke, Daniel Britt, Michael E Brown, Marc W Buie, Philip R Christensen, Neil Dello Russo, Joshua P Emery, William M Grundy, Matthias Hahn, Victoria E Hamilton, Carly Howett, Hannah Kaplan, Katherine Kretke, Tod R Lauer, Claudia Manzoni, Raphael Marschall


Asteroids with diameters less than about 5 km have complex histories because they are small enough for radiative torques (that is, YORP, short for the Yarkovsky–O’Keefe–Radzievskii–Paddack effect)1 to be a notable factor in their evolution2. (152830) Dinkinesh is a small asteroid orbiting the Sun near the inner edge of the main asteroid belt with a heliocentric semimajor axis of 2.19 au; its S-type spectrum3, 4 is typical of bodies in this part of the main belt5. Here we report observations by the Lucy spacecraft6, 7 as it passed within 431 km of Dinkinesh. Lucy revealed Dinkinesh, which has an effective diameter of only 720 m, to be unexpectedly complex. Of particular note is the presence of a prominent longitudinal trough overlain by a substantial equatorial ridge and the discovery of the first confirmed contact binary satellite, now named (152830) Dinkinesh I Selam. Selam consists of two near-equal-sized lobes with diameters of 210 m and 230 m. It orbits Dinkinesh at a distance of 3.1 km with an orbital period of about 52.7 h and is tidally locked. The dynamical state, angular momentum and geomorphologic observations of the system lead us to infer that the ridge and trough of Dinkinesh are probably the result of mass failure resulting from spin-up by YORP followed by the partial reaccretion of the shed material. Selam probably accreted from material shed by this event.

Exploring the directly imaged HD 1160 system through spectroscopic characterisation and high-cadence variability monitoring

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press (OUP) (2024) stae1315


Ben J Sutlieff, Jayne L Birkby, Jordan M Stone, Annelotte Derkink, Frank Backs, David S Doelman, Matthew A Kenworthy, Alexander J Bohn, Steve Ertel, Frans Snik, Charles E Woodward, Ilya Ilyin, Andrew J Skemer, Jarron M Leisenring, Klaus G Strassmeier, Ji Wang, David Charbonneau, Beth A Biller

Into the red: An M-band study of the chemistry and rotation of β Pictoris b at high spectral resolution

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press (OUP) (2024) stae1277


Luke T Parker, Jayne L Birkby, Rico Landman, Joost P Wardenier, Mitchell E Young, Sophia R Vaughan, Lennart van Sluijs, Matteo Brogi, Vivien Parmentier, Michael R Line

Destination: Space! A Virtual Flash Talk Series



Katherine Shirley, Helena Cotterill, Tristram Warren, Helena Bates, Robert Spry, Sian Tedaldi, Neil Bowles


Introduction: During the series of national lockdowns, interacting onsite with local schools became difficult and increased the demand for virtual content. To meet this challenge, we created an online programme entitled “Destination: Space”, aimed at showcasing the current planetary research conducted within the Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Planetary Physics (AOPP) department at the University of Oxford. Over six weeks, school students from the UK and around the globe joined us on an out-of-this-world journey exploring space and planetary physics. Destination: Space has introduced students to fascinating areas of science, including the search for water on the Moon, meteorites and sample return missions, and whether there really could be other life out there in the universe. Talks were hosted online in a live webinar-style, where the audience could interact with and ask questions of the scientists involved in each event. The series consisted of four short seminars, one game show style event, and one purely question and answer panel session. The seminar sessions consisted of a short talk delivered by AOPP scientists focused on their research with time for audience questions. The game show event was loosely based on the “Would I lie to you?” BBC hit television show and had the scientists presenting short statements and inviting the audience to determine whether it was fact or fiction. This format encouraged audience participation and debate through the webinar chat feature. Due to the large number of questions we were unable to get to during the seminar sessions, a Q&A panel was added to the series. Reception: The Destination: Space programme was advertised well in advance of its commencement through the Oxford Physics Outreach department mailing lists connected to local schools, and through social media accounts. Over 750 local and international audience members attended the series with an additional 1000+ viewers watching the recorded versions on YouTube as of this time. Project Assessment: For the seminar sessions, polls were used to assess the audience’s knowledge before and after the talk, with the majority self-reporting an increase in understanding of the topic and overall positive comments from the audience, including several emails from teachers supporting the project. The game show session incorporated polls throughout to encourage an interactive event, and showed the audience actively debating in the chat and reaching the right answer 85% of the time. Responses to this event were overwhelmingly positive and many cited the interactivity as enhancing their experience. Overall polling showed support for the programme and calls for similar series covering other space topics. We will look to create another series for the upcoming school year, and to create more activities for teachers to use in conjunction with the programme.  The recorded programme can be found here: