Hall of Fame
The ATLAS team is composed of astronomers and engineers from the University of Hawaii and the Space Telescope Science Institute as well as dedicated volunteers who provide important support. We are dedicated to making the world safer from asteroid impacts. All of us are enthusiastic about coupling state-of-the-art camera technology to sophisticated computerized image processing in order to take advantage of what modern computers can do for astronomy.
John Tonry, University of Hawaii
John Tonry received his PhD from Harvard in 1980, was a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study and Caltech, and then became a faculty member in the physics department at MIT. After 11 years the lure of Hawaii became too great to resist and he joined the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy in 1996. John has been heavily involved in using high redshift supernovae (SNIa) to measure cosmological parameters as well as other research projects such as studying black holes in galaxy centers and determining distances to nearby galaxies. He and the rest of the High-Z team discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe from dark energy in 1998 and have continued ever since identifying and following SNIa to refine those measurements. He and his students have developed new methods to characterize SNIa from their spectra and measure distances from their light curves, and eagerly using the new information from Pan-STARRS1.
John is one of the principals who initiated and led the Pan-STARRS project to the construction of the first prototype telescope, Pan-STARRS1 on Haleakala. He led and managed the $7M effort to build the Pan-STARRS GPC1 Camera - the world's first gigapixel camera. (The LSST camera, at twice the pixel count, is budgeted to cost more than 10 times as much.) GPC1 was ready for use in Aug 2007 and has operated since then without significant problem. He continues as a consultant for the engineers who are presently building GPC2.
Larry Denneau, University of Hawaii
ATLAS senior software engineer Larry Denneau has been the chief software architect of the Pan-STARRS moving object processing system (MOPS) since 2004. MOPS is a software package that automatically identifies solar system objects (in particular hazardous asteroids) in the Pan-STARRS data stream. To date Pan-STARRS has discovered over 500 near-Earth objects and 30 comets.
Larry has been poking at computer keyboards since the early 80s and received his B.S.E.E. from the University of Arizona, whereupon he quickly escaped academia. His software career has spanned projects ranging from surface metrology for the semiconductor industry, medical scheduling, geophysical instrumentation, and a dot-com Internet startup that actually turned a profit. Now back in academia, Larry has enthusiastically joined the effort to protect the earth from dangerous asteroids.
Robert Jedicke, University of Hawaii
Robert Jedicke has had four professional careers: football, particle physics, astronomy, and software engineering. He received his PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of Toronto, Canada. After a brief stint in the professional Canadian Football league with the B.C. Lions in Vancouver he held post-doctoral positions at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ilinois, and at the University of Arizona's Lunar & Planetary Laboratory where he worked on the Spacewatch near Earth asteroid survey. He spent more than five years at Veeco Corporation in Tucson, Arizona, developing image analysis software for interferometers before accepting a faculty position at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy in 2003. Rob managed the development of the Pan-STARRS moving object processing system that is now reporting precision asteroid detections to the Minor Planet Center.
Rob is now a co-lead on the Inner Solar System team for the Pan-STARRS 1 Science Consortium. Most of his research in the past decade has been focussed on identifying asteroids and comets that might hit the Earth some day and on characterizing their orbit and size distribution. He joined Pan-STARRS to design the system to identify large asteroids years, decades, and even centuries before impact. His work on ATLAS will help identify the smaller asteroids that hit the Earth much more frequently.
Armin Rest, Space Telescope Science Institute
Armin Rest came to the US as a Baden-Wuerttemberg - Oregon exchange student at the Physics Department of Portland State University where he received his M.S. in physics. He decided to stay in the United States and received his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Washington. As a NOAO Goldberg fellow he then spent 4 years at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in La Serena, Chile where he was one of the leaders of the SuperMACHO and ESSENCE projects, two time-domain sky surveys that investigate dark matter and dark energy, respectively.
Armin's research interests have mainly been focussed on observational cosmology with a particular emphasis on detection and analysis of rare transient events. i.e. things in our universe that happen infrequently and last for only short periods of time. Returning from Chile, he worked for three years at Harvard University where his focus shifted toward PanSTARRS, the next big wide-field, time-domain survey, as well as following up galaxy cluster candidates detected by the South Pole Telescope via the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect. He also leads a group investigating light echoes of ancient and historic supernovae. In 2010 Armin accepted a position as an assistant astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD.
Richard Wainscoat, University of Hawaii
Richard Wainscoat received his PhD from the Australian National University in 1986.
Elsie Lee is the webmaster of www.fallingstar.com and the Friends of the IfA. She has been an active volunteer with the Friends of the IfA since 2010. A lifelong gamer and Trekkie, she has a lifetime subscription to Star Trek Online.
Chris Oliver is the editor at fallingstar.com. She is a former newspaper reporter and Travel Editor and has a lifelong fascination with astronomy.
"Asteroids have been on the interplanetary highway for more than 4 billion years; unfortunately, they don't always travel light."
Friends of ATLAS
Tim Kilby donated the fallingstar.com domain to the ATLAS Project in recognition of the scientists and engineers that work to bring small but great ideas to life. Not a scientist himself, Tim still has the curiosity and wonderment about comets and eclipses, nebulae and clusters, meteorites and planetary moons, that led him to early avocational interests in astronomy. Nowadays, Tim tries to answer his grandsons' questions as they look up at the night sky together.
* Written by Karen Rehbock.
Phil Whitney is one of the IfA's most enthusiastic supporters. He joined the Friends of Hawaii Astronomy in 2000, the first year of the group's existence, and attends many IfA functions. He also lends a welcome helping hand at IfA's popular annual open house, where he tries to recruit new "Friends."
At the IfA, Whitney is fondly known as "Mr. Rotary Club" because, since 1999, he has arranged for IfA astronomers to give talks to many of the Oahu Rotary clubs. (He is an active member and past president of the Rotary Club of Honolulu.) Astronomer Paul Coleman says that he loves giving talks to the various Rotary clubs because "Phil picks me up at the Institute, drives me to the meetings, treats me to lunch, lets me give my talk, and afterwards returns me back to the office."
Whitney's interest in astronomy goes back many years to when he first read works by George Gamow and Fred Hoyle (known for their work related to cosmogenesis) and Arthur C. Clarke (inventor of the geosynchronous communications satellite, but better known for writing science fiction). This interest was revived as he neared retirement: "In 1998 I was beginning a transition to full retirement and saw an article on the Institute, and this rekindled my interest in astronomy." He made a phone call to the IfA Director's Office, received a packet of information, visited, and soon started arranging Rotary talks. Whitney says, "I feel very fortunate to associate with such a professional, forward-looking group that is bringing new knowledge to the world and important economic and educational benefits to our state." He is one of the early and continuing donors among a group that recognizes the importance of ATLAS.