A NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study
of the innermost planet
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MESSENGER Telecon Panel Biographies

Sean C. Solomon, MESSENGER Principal Investigator
Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C.

Sean Solomon As Principal Investigator for the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission, Sean Solomon heads a multi-institutional consortium of scientists and engineers who operate the small, efficient spacecraft, which launched in 2004 and will reach its target orbit in 2011.
Prior to this January, the only craft sent to Mercury was Mariner 10 in the 1970s, and it imaged less than half of the planet. With a suite of seven miniaturized instruments, MESSENGER will address questions that are key to understanding terrestrial planet evolution. Solomon's particular interests are to learn more about Mercury's bulk composition and what that tells us about planet formation in general; to investigate Mercury's volcanic, tectonic, and internal evolution; and to understand how the planet's magnetic field originated and determine the characteristics of Mercury's liquid outer core. Mariner 10 discovered that Mercury has a weak magnetic field, which may arise from an Earth-like electromagnetic dynamo in the planet's outer core. MESSENGER will investigate this question as well as the nature of the planet's thin atmosphere and the composition of the permanently shadowed polar deposits.
Solomon has also been a team member on a variety of other projects, including the Magellan mission to Venus, the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) investigation on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, and the Plume-Lithosphere Undersea Mantle Experiment (PLUME) on Earth. The Magellan mission produced global radar image and altimetric maps of the surface of Venus. Data from MOLA have been used to construct precise topographical maps to understand Martian geology, geophysics, and atmospheric circulation. PLUME is a combined land and ocean-bottom seismic experiment to image the mantle beneath the Hawaiian hotspot. Solomon is leading the land section of this project.
Solomon balances his position as director of the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism with research in planetary geology and geophysics, seismology, marine geophysics, and geodynamics. Prior to accepting his current position, he was a professor of geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for more than 20 years. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a former president of the American Geophysical Union.

Contact Information: 202.478.8850
e-mail: scs@dtm.ciw.edu

Ronald J. Vervack, Jr., MESSENGER Participating Scientist
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

Ronald Vervack Ronald J. Vervack, Jr. has been a Senior Research Scientist at APL since 2000. His research involves the remote sensing of planetary atmospheres, comets, and asteroids using a variety of spectroscopic techniques from spacecraft and ground-based telescopes. His involvement in the MESSENGER mission is through the Participating Scientist Program, and he is utilizing a combination of observations and modeling to investigate the various processes that generate and maintain the tenuous Mercury exosphere.

Contact Information: 240.228.8221
e-mail: ron.vervack@jhuapl.edu

David J. Lawrence, MESSENGER Participating Scientist
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

David Lawrence David J. Lawrence is an expert in gamma-ray and neutron spectroscopy and determining planetary compositions by remote sensing. Utilizing data from the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS), he will investigate Mercury’s composition and geology. He is the Instrument Scientist for the Neutron Spectrometer, a MESSENGER Participating Scientist, and a member of the MESSENGER Geochemistry Group.

Contact Information: 240.228.9615
e-mail: david.j.lawrence@jhuapl.edu

Brett Denevi, MESSENGER Imaging Team member and Postdoctoral Researcher
Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.

Brett Denevi Brett Denevi is a postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University. She earned a B.A. in Geological Sciences from Northwestern University in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Hawaii in 2007. Her research interests include the composition, origin, and evolution of planetary crusts, and she specializes in deriving compositional information from ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared spectroscopy of planetary surfaces. She is currently working on the calibration and analysis of images from MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) and calibration and preparations for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.

Contact Information: 301.351.2219
e-mail: bdenevi@ser.asu.edu

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