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Colin Snodgrass - research

I am an astronomer and planetary scientist, and study the minor bodies of our solar system via remote observations using telescopes. My main area of expertise is in research into comets.

My work also includes spacecraft-based exploration of our solar system. I coordinated the world-wide ground-based observation campaign that supported the Rosetta mission, and was previously part of the Rosetta/OSIRIS camera team. I jointly lead (with Geraint Jones at MSSL/UCL) the ESA Comet Interceptor mission, which is due to launch in 2028 and will visit a yet-to-be-discovered comet entering the inner Solar System for the first time (read more details here; open access paper). I was also the lead proposer for Castalia, a mission to a main belt comet, which was submitted to the ESA M5 call but ultimately not selected.

Aside from comets, I also work on other small body populations: Asteroids and Kuiper Belt objects. I am particularly interested in the rotation properties of these bodies, and how this can reveal fundamental parameters such as their density, and also in their surface compositions. I use a variety of observing techniques in visible and near-infrared wavelength ranges, including photometry, spectroscopy and occultation measurements. I was co-lead on a second M5 mission proposal, CASTAway, which was proposed perform a tour of the main asteroid belt.

Asteroids are also of interest as potential hazards to us on Earth, and as future resources for mining as we explore the Solar System, and I am involved with projects to study them for these reasons. I am part of the teams working on the ESA Hera and NASA Dart missions, which will test the possibility of deflecting a potentially dangerous asteroid, and I am part of the EU funded NEOROCKS programme to study Near Earth asteroids in more detail.

I also have an interest in extrasolar planets, especially through the microlensing method.