Dissertation Defense by Gordon Gartrelle on Nov. 13th

Aerospace Sciences Ph.D. candidate, Gordon Gartrelle, will defend his dissertation as follows.  All Aviation and Space Studies students and faculty are encouraged to attend.

When:  Wednesday, November 13th at 3:00 pm (Central)

Where:  Ryan Hall, Room 111

Title:  “Spectral Variations of D-Type Asteroids at Different Heliocentric Distances”

About the research:  D-type asteroids represent a complex mystery related to the history, compositional chemistry, and dynamical migration of Outer Solar System objects. These dark spectrally featureless bodies have revealed few clues while raising many questions over four decades of study. This investigation focused on:  (a) the visible near-infrared (VNIR) spectral distinctions of D-types based on heliocentric location; (b) the suspected surface composition of D-types; and (c) a parent body search for ungrouped chondritic meteorites Tagish Lake (TLM) and WIS 91600 long suspected as D-type analogs. Twenty-five newly acquired D-type spectra from NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility  (IRTF) plus sixty-one IRTF VNIR spectra of D-types from the literature were combined into a single database and extensively analyzed.

About the candidate:  Gordon was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in New York City, Los Angeles, as well as San Francisco. He attended the University of Colorado and graduated with a B.A. in Economics and Political Science with a minor in Astronomy. After graduation, he spent twenty-eight years at IBM in a variety of sales and executive positions before leaving in 2009.


He earned an M.A. in K-12 Educational Leadership and Human Development from George Washington University in 2008, as well as an M.S. from the University of North Dakota (UND) in 2011. The results of his UND Master’s research, focused on rotation periods of a dozen main belt asteroids, was published in 2012 and appears in part on NASA’s JPL Small Bodies Database Browser.


A child of the space age, Gordon grew up admiring the adventures of our astronauts during the race to the moon, watching all the Apollo launches and landings on TV, and witnessing three Space Shuttle launches live. He has also been fortunate enough to speak at length with Astronauts Alan Bean (Apollo 12), Ken Mattingly (Apollo 16), Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17), and Gary Payton (STS-51C).


Gordon has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles on asteroid mining, astrobiology, and the search for extra terrestrial life. He served as Executive Officer at the Mars Desert Research Station, completed Planetary Science School at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and was a member of a NASA Review Panel for planetary science. He is a visiting astronomer at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, Japan’s Institute of Planetary Materials, and the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand. His goal is to continue working in the area of small Solar System Bodies and ultimately desires to become a member of a science team for a Solar System robotic mission


Gordon resides in Manhattan.  In his spare time, he enjoys skiing, photography, music, languages, reading, New York sports, and traveling. He has visited all fifty states and fifty-one countries on six continents for both work and pleasure.


******Those unable to attend in person may view the live webcast******

1) A live webcast which includes PowerPoint slides will be available here.

2) Via Zoom Video Conferencing.  Sign in as a guest, or use your Zoom log-in.


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