Dante Lauretta is the principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission and a Regents Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. His research interests focus on the chemistry and mineralogy of asteroids and comets, and he is an expert on the analysis of extraterrestrial materials, including asteroid samples, meteorites and comet particles.
Lauretta heads a research team at the University of Arizona working on this mission, which has included more than 150 undergraduate and graduate students. The mission was selected in 2011, launched in 2016 and will return samples back to Earth in 2023. Sample analysis will continue until 2025. This project will help ensure that the University of Arizona remains at the forefront of planetary exploration for the next decade.
Dani DellaGiustina is an assistant professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. She is the deputy principal investigator and image processing lead scientist for the OSIRIS-REx mission. Once OSIRIS-REx delivers its sample to Earth, DellaGiustina will take over as principal investigator of the spacecraft's extended mission, OSIRIS-APEX. The OSIRIS-APEX mission will study a second near-Earth asteroid, Apophis. During a close approach by the asteroid anticipated for April 13, 2029, the spacecraft will rendezvous with Apophis and begin an 18-month campaign of investigation and discovery.
DellaGiustina's research focuses on asteroid surfaces and planetary seismology. She is especially interested in developing methods that can detect the presence of water on worlds other than Earth throughout the solar system.