Interests: Cosmology, Cosmic Dust, Ether
Amara Graps, 47, is an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, supporting the New Horizons Pluto mission and continuing her studies of circum/interplanetary dust charging and dynamics and the origin of water on the terrestrial planets. Previously, she was in Italy as a (long-distance) associate researcher with the Planetary Science Institute (PSI), as a researcher at the Institute of Interplanetary Space Physics (INAF-IFSI) in Rome, Italy, where she supported the space missions (Cassini, Rosetta, Dawn) that carry INAF?s infrared spectrometers, and as an astronomy instructor at the American University of Rome. Her work experience, primarily in astronomy, astrophysics, and planetary science research, was gained from work at SwRI, IFSI, MPI-K, NASA-Ames, Stanford University, the University of Colorado and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In addition, she consulted for engineering, computer, and medical companies in Heidelberg and the Silicon Valley working on numerical analysis, technical writing, and WWW site projects. Sometimes she also writes popular astronomy and scientific computing articles for trade newsletters and magazines.
In her ESA and NASA projects, she has analyzed data from the Ulysses spacecraft, GORID/Express spacecraft, Cassini spacecraft, Galileo spacecraft, SOHO spacecraft, NASA?s Kuiper Airborne Observatory, NASA?s ER-2 aircraft, the Voyager 2 spacecraft, the Pioneer Venus Orbiter spacecraft, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), the Space Shuttle?s SpaceLab 2, and ground-based telescopes in Hawaii, California, and Arizona. The data includes dust from Jupiter?s magnetosphere and Earth?s geostationary orbit, the Sun, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, Comet Halley, Supernova 1987a, Venus, Mars, Io, Mercury, the Moon, Saturn?s and Uranus? rings, asteroids, Earth?s atmosphere, protostars, molecular clouds, galaxies, novas, main-sequence stars, and the exhaust-cloud around the Space Shuttle.
In July 2001, she completed her PhD in Physics from Universit?t Heidelberg (Germany) and the Max Planck Institut f?r Kernphysik, researching the charged dust dynamics of the Jovian dust streams. Her previous formal education occurred in conjunction with her jobs: She earned her B.S. in Physics in 1984 from the University of California, Irvine while she was working at JPL, and her M.S. in Physics (w/Computational Physics option) in 1991 from San Jose State University while she was associated with NASA Ames.
Her hobbies include bicycle touring, volcanos, Cremona violins, photography, writing, watercolor painting, studying philosophy, and learning the Italian and Latvian languages. She is very interested in helping people learn about the cultural interdependent nature of people on our planet.