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Katherine Shirley

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Planetary Geologist

I have always been interested in space and geology, so I am excited to be in a field where I can study rocks on other planets as part of a number of space missions - the LRO, OSIRIS-REx, Comet Interceptor, and Lunar Trailblazer missions.

I received my undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis, where I began working with remote sensing data from the Moon, which involved looking at detailed pictures of the lunar surface to count the craters in a region to figure out how old it is. I continued that vein of research throughout graduate school at Stony Brook University, where I researched the way the lunar environment affects the spectral properties of rocks and our ability to identify them elsewhere in the solar system. Now here at Oxford, I continue to study rocks on the Moon, but have also expanded to looking at asteroids and comets.

I also enjoy teaching and sharing science with the public. I started to get involved with outreach in the community at Stony Brook, where I and my colleagues began a group that brought hands-on science to local elementary students. Since moving here, I have gotten to know the Oxford community through the annual physics Stargazing events and the Destination: Space series.

Wednesday 31st Mar 2021, 12.30pm

Why are we searching for water on the moon?

The moon may be the closest planetary body to us, but we still have a lot to learn about it. For example, what is the water-cycle like on an airless body such as the moon? How much water can be found there, and could we one day utilise this water for space exploration? In this episode of the Big Questions Podcast, we chat to Dr Katherine Shirley, a planetary scientist at the University of...

Why are we searching for water on the moon?