Noemi Pinilla-Alonso, Ph.D

Associate Scientist

407-823-6169

Npinilla@ucf.edu


Dr. Pinilla-Alonso is a Planetary Scientist that joined the Florida Space Institute in late 2015 as an Associate Scientist. Her career as a researcher started in the Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain, where she got her PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2009). After that she was a post-doctoral researcher at the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the University of Tennessee; at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía in Granada, Spain; and at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
Her research interest is discovering how our Solar System formed and evolved to its present state. In particular, determining surface compositions of minor bodies and interpreting them in terms of surface alteration mechanisms and, ultimately, formation conditions. For her research she combines observational techniques with modeling efforts. For the observational effort she accesses either ground-based observatories (e.g. Gemini, GTC, IRTF) or data from spacecraft (e.g., Deep Impact and GAIA in the near future) or data from space telescopes (e.g. NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, Herschel Space Observatory). To analyze these data, she applies different techniques e.g. modeling of the scattering of light by multi-component surfaces and clustering techniques, to mine large data sets.
Dr. Pinilla-Alonso is currently leading a project entitled: “Preparing for James Webb Space Telescope: Completing the IRAC Legacy in the Kuiper Belt”. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will enable us to characterize in detail, and for the first time, the composition of a large sample of ancient objects orbiting the Sun in the coldest regions of the Solar System, the trans-Neptunian belt. As such, JWST represents not only the most important near-term opportunity to advance our understanding of objects in that region, but also a great contribution to understand other planetary systems. She is also is leading an observational effort to study the surface composition of Pluto in support of the New Horizons Mission.
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