Amy Mainzer, one of the world’s leading scientists in asteroid detection and planetary defense, will join the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory as a professor of planetary sciences this fall. Mainzer comes to the UA from the Science Division at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she has worked as a senior research scientist specializing in astrophysical instrumentation and infrared astronomy.
As principal investigator of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission, or NEOWISE, Mainzer has overseen the largest space-based asteroid-hunting project in history, resulting in the detection and characterization of an unprecedented number of asteroids and comets, including objects that could potentially pose a hazard to Earth at some point in the future.
Mainzer also is the principal investigator of the proposed NASA Near-Earth Object Camera, or NEOCam, a next generation space telescope that would use a similar scientific approach to fulfill a mandate from the U.S. Congress to discover nearly all of the space rocks that could pose a significant threat to Earth.
Mainzer holds a doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master of Science degree from the California Institute of Technology. She graduated with honors from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science.