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Derek Sears

Meteorites and asteroids
BSc, 1970, chemistry, University of Kent at Canterbury
Diploma in Space Science, 1971, University College London (University of London)
PhD, 1974, geology and astronomy, University of Leicester

FINESSE Research Objectives

To take new insights resulting from FINESS’ scientific exploration at volcanic and impact sites on Earth and apply the lessons-learned to the scientific exploration of asteroids.


Until summer 2011, I was University Professor, W. M. Keck Professor of Space and Planetary Science, and director of the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arkansas.  In the past I have performed instrumental neutron activation analysis and electron microprobe analysis of meteorites.  I have also worked on the surface processes occurring on Mars, asteroids and comets and have developed techniques to investigate these processes using microgravity and space simulation experiments.  My current research interests involve laboratory studies of extraterrestrial materials, especially meteorites and lunar samples, mostly using thermoluminescence and cathodoluminescence.  Other interests include the history of meteoritics and planetary science and educational outreach; I am currently the owner/editor of Meteorite magazine.

For thirty years I taught various chemistry courses at the undergraduate level and nuclear chemistry and cosmochemistry at the graduate level.  Between 1991 and 2001, I was Editor of the research journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.  As director of the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences I created REU, MS, and PhD programs in space and planetary science. I have published three books and over 200 peer-reviewed research articles.

Upcoming Activities

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SSERVI / Exploration Science Forum
July 2016
The Exploration Science Forum brings together the Science and Exploration communities to discuss current research regardin the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids, and Phobos & Deimos.
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Third International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos & Deimos
July 2016
The Third International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos, subtitled The Science, Robotic Reconnaissance, and Human Exploration of the Two Moons of Mars, will be the third international meeting focused on Phobos and Deimos, and on how their exploration relates to that of other small bodies, Mars, and the rest of the Solar System.

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Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (COTM), Idaho, USA

Prime FINESSE COTM field deployment:
Summer 2016


International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN)

October 8, 2016
InOMN is a world-wide outreach event to encourage people to observe and learn about our nearest celestial neighbor, the Moon. The InOMN website can be found here.
Division of Planetary Sciences
October 16-21, 2016
The Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) annual meeting will be held in Pasadena, CA.  This meeting brings together researchers studying planetary objects to present and discuss cutting-edge planetary science.
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American Geophysical Union
December 12-16, 2016
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting is one of the most prestigious Earth and space sciences meeting worldwide.  AGU is held each December in San Francisco, CA.

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