W. Benz

Universität Bern, Bern, BE, Switzerland

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Publications (329)1017.91 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We describe radial-velocity time series obtained by HARPS on the 3.60 m telescope in La Silla (ESO, Chile) over ten years and report the discovery of five new giant exoplanets in distant orbits; these new planets orbit the stars HD 564, HD 30669, HD 108341, and BD-114672. Their periods range from 492 to 1684 days, semi-major axes range from 1.2 to 2.69 AU, and eccentricities range from 0 to 0.85. Their minimum mass ranges from 0.33 to 3.5 Mjup. We also refine the parameters of two planets announced previously around HD 113538, based on a longer series of measurements. The planets have a period of 663+-8 and 1818+-25 days, orbital eccentricities of 0.14+-0.08 and 0.20+-0.04, and minimum masses of 0.36+-0.04 and 0.93+-0.06 Mjup. Finally, we report the discovery of a new hot-Jupiter planet around an active star, HD 103720; the planet has a period of 4.5557+-0.0001 days and a minimum mass of 0.62+-0.025 Mjup. We discuss the fundamental parameters of these systems and limitations due to stellar activity in quiet stars with typical 2m/s radial velocity precision.
    12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: PLATO 2.0 is a mission candidate for ESA's M3 launch opportunity (2022/24). It addresses fundamental questions such as: How do planetary systems form and evolve? Are there other systems with planets like ours, able to develop life? The PLATO 2.0 instrument consists of 34 small aperture telescopes providing a wide field-of-view and a large photometric magnitude range. It targets bright stars in wide fields to detect and characterize planets down to Earth-size by photometric transits, whose masses can then be determined by ground-based radial-velocity follow-up measurements. Asteroseismology will be performed for stars <=11mag to obtain highly accurate stellar parameters, including masses and ages. The combination of bright targets and asteroseismology results in high accuracy for the bulk planet parameters: 2%, 4-10% and 10% for planet radii, masses and ages, respectively. The foreseen baseline observing strategy includes two long pointings (2-3 years) to detect and bulk characterize planets reaching into the habitable zone (HZ) of solar-like stars and an additional step-and-stare phase to cover in total about 50% of the sky. PLATO 2.0 will observe up to 1,000,000 stars and detect and characterize hundreds of small planets, and thousands of planets in the Neptune to gas giant regime out to the HZ. It will therefore provide the first large-scale catalogue of bulk characterized planets with accurate radii, masses, mean densities and ages. This catalogue will include Earth-like planets at intermediate orbital distances, where surface temperatures are moderate. Coverage of this parameter range with statistical numbers of bulk characterized planets is unique to PLATO 2.0. ...
    Experimental Astronomy 10/2014; 38:249. · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The CHaracterizing ExOPlanet Satellite (CHEOPS) is an ESA Small Mission whose launch is planned for the end of 2017. It is a Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a 320 mm aperture providing a FoV of 0.32 degrees, which will target nearby bright stars already known to host planets, and measure, through ultrahigh precision photometry, the radius of exo-planets, allowing to determine their composition. This paper will present the details of the AIV plan for a demonstration model of the CHEOPS Telescope with equivalent structure but different CTEs. Alignment procedures, needed GSEs and devised verification tests will be described and a path for the AIV of the flight model, which will take place at industries premises, will be sketched.
    SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Stray light contamination reduces considerably the precision of photometric of faint stars for low altitude spaceborne observatories. When measuring faint objects, the necessity of coping with stray light contamination arises in order to avoid systematic impacts on low signal-to-noise images. Stray light contamination can be represented by a flat offset in CCD data. Mitigation techniques begin by a comprehensive study during the design phase, followed by the use of target pointing optimisation and post-processing methods. We present a code that aims at simulating the stray-light contamination in low-Earth orbit coming from reflexion of solar light by the Earth. StrAy Light SimulAtor (SALSA) is a tool intended to be used at an early stage as a tool to evaluate the effective visible region in the sky and, therefore to optimise the observation sequence. SALSA can compute Earth stray light contamination for significant periods of time allowing missionwide parameters to be optimised (e.g. impose constraints on the point source transmission function (PST) and/or on the altitude of the satellite). It can also be used to study the behaviour of the stray light at different seasons or latitudes. Given the position of the satellite with respect to the Earth and the Sun, SALSA computes the stray light at the entrance of the telescope following a geometrical technique. After characterising the illuminated region of the Earth, the portion of illuminated Earth that affects the satellite is calculated. Then, the flux of reflected solar photons is evaluated at the entrance of the telescope. Using the PST of the instrument, the final stray light contamination at the detector is calculated. The analysis tools include time series analysis of the contamination, evaluation of the sky coverage and an objects visibility predictor. Effects of the South Atlantic Anomaly and of any shutdown periods of the instrument can be added. Several designs or mission concepts can be easily tested and compared. The code is not thought as a stand-alone mission designer. Its mandatory inputs are a time series describing the trajectory of the satellite and the characteristics of the instrument. This software suite has been applied to the design and analysis of CHEOPS (CHaracterizing ExOPlanet Satellite). This mission requires very high precision photometry to detect very shallow transits of exoplanets. Different altitudes and characteristics of the detector have been studied in order to find the best parameters, that reduce the effect of contamination.
    SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: The CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite (CHEOPS) is a joint ESA-Switzerland space mission (expected to launch in 2017) dedicated to search for exoplanet transits by means of ultra-high precision photometry. CHEOPS will provide accurate radii for planets down to Earth size. Targets will mainly come from radial velocity surveys. The CHEOPS instrument is an optical space telescope of 30 cm clear aperture with a single focal plane CCD detector. The tube assembly is passively cooled and thermally controlled to support high precision, low noise photometry. The telescope feeds a re-imaging optic, which supports the straylight suppression concept to achieve the required Signal to Noise.
    SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Spreading the PSF over a quite large amount of pixels is an increasingly used observing technique in order to reach extremely precise photometry, such as in the case of exoplanets searching and characterization via transits observations. A PSF top-hat profile helps to minimize the errors contribution due to the uncertainty on the knowledge of the detector flat field. This work has been carried out during the recent design study in the framework of the ESA small mission CHEOPS. Because of lack of perfect flat-fielding information, in the CHEOPS optics it is required to spread the light of a source into a well defined angular area, in a manner as uniform as possible. Furthermore this should be accomplished still retaining the features of a true focal plane onto the detector. In this way, for instance, the angular displacement on the focal plane is fully retained and in case of several stars in a field these look as separated as their distance is larger than the spreading size. An obvious way is to apply a defocus, while the presence of an intermediate pupil plane in the Back End Optics makes attractive to introduce here an optical device that is able to spread the light in a well defined manner, still retaining the direction of the chief ray hitting it. This can be accomplished through an holographic diffuser or through a lenslet array. Both techniques implement the concept of segmenting the pupil into several sub-zones where light is spread to a well defined angle. We present experimental results on how to deliver such PSF profile by mean of holographic diffuser and lenslet array. Both the devices are located in an intermediate pupil plane of a properly scaled laboratory setup mimicking the CHEOPS optical design configuration.
    SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Solar and extrasolar comets and extrasolar planets are the subject of numerous studies in order to determine their chemical composition and internal structure. In the case of planetesimals, their compositions are important as they govern in part the composition of future planets. The present works aims at determining the chemical composition of icy planetesimals, believed to be similar to present day comets, formed in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. The main objective of this work is to provide valuable theoretical data on chemical composition for models of planetesimals and comets, and models of planet formation and evolution. We have developed a model that calculates the composition of ices formed during the cooling of the stellar nebula. Coupled with a model of refractory element formation, it allows us to determine the chemical composition and mass ratio of ices to rocks in icy planetesimals throughout in the protoplanetary disc. We provide relationships for ice line positions (for different volatile species) in the disc, and chemical compositions and mass ratios of ice relative to rock for icy planetesimals in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. From an initial homogeneous composition of the nebula, a wide variety of chemical compositions of planetesimals were produced as a function of the mass of the disc and distance to the star. Ices incorporated in planetesimals are mainly composed of H2O, CO, CO2, CH3OH, and NH3. The ice/rock mass ratio is equal to 1+-0.5 in icy planetesimals following assumptions. This last value is in good agreement with observations of solar system comets, but remains lower than usual assumptions made in planet formation models, taking this ratio to be of 2-3.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 07/2014; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Solar and extrasolar planets are the subject of numerous studies aiming to determine their chemical composition and internal structure. In the case of extrasolar planets, the composition is important as it partly governs their potential habitability. Moreover, observational determination of chemical composition of planetary atmospheres are becoming available, especially for transiting planets. The present works aims at determining the chemical composition of planets formed in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. The main objective of this work is to provide valuable theoretical data for models of planet formation and evolution, and future interpretation of chemical composition of solar and extrasolar planets. We have developed a model that computes the composition of ices in planets in different stellar systems with the use of models of ice and planetary formation. We provide the chemical composition, ice/rock mass ratio and C:O molar ratio for planets in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. From an initial homogeneous composition of the nebula, we produce a wide variety of planetary chemical compositions as a function of the mass of the disk and distance to the star. The volatile species incorporated in planets are mainly composed of H2O, CO, CO2, CH3OH, and NH3. Icy or ocean planets have systematically higher values of molecular abundances compared to giant and rocky planets. Gas giant planets are depleted in highly volatile molecules such as CH4, CO, and N2 compared to icy or ocean planets. The ice/rock mass ratio in icy or ocean and gas giant planets is, respectively, equal at maximum to 1.01+-0.33 and 0.8+-0.5, and is different from the usual assumptions made in planet formation models, which suggested this ratio to be 2-3. The C:O molar ratio in the atmosphere of gas giant planets is depleted by at least 30% compared to solar value.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 07/2014; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The asteroid 4 Vesta was recently found to have two large impact craters near its south pole, exposing subsurface material. Modelling suggested that surface material in the northern hemisphere of Vesta came from a depth of about 20 kilometres, whereas the exposed southern material comes from a depth of 60 to 100 kilometres. Large amounts of olivine from the mantle were not seen, suggesting that the outer 100 kilometres or so is mainly igneous crust. Here we analyse the data on Vesta and conclude that the crust–mantle boundary (or Moho) is deeper than 80 kilometres.
    Nature 07/2014; 511:303. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: With the increasing number of exoplanets discovered, statistical properties of the population as a whole become unique constraints on planet formation models provided a link between the description of the detailed processes playing a role in this formation and the observed population can be established. Planet population synthesis provides such a link. The approach allows to study how different physical models of individual processes (e.g., proto-planetary disc structure and evolution, planetesimal formation, gas accretion, migration, etc.) affect the overall properties of the population of emerging planets. By necessity, planet population synthesis relies on simplified descriptions of complex processes. These descriptions can be obtained from more detailed specialised simulations of these processes. The objective of this chapter is twofold: 1) provide an overview of the physics entering in the two main approaches to planet population synthesis and 2) present some of the results achieved as well as illustrate how it can be used to extract constraints on the models and to help interpret observations.
    02/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract A scientific forum on "The Future Science of Exoplanets and Their Systems," sponsored by Europlanet (*) and the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) (†) and co-organized by the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) (‡) of the University of Bern, was held during December 5 and 6, 2012, in Bern, Switzerland. It gathered 24 well-known specialists in exoplanetary, Solar System, and stellar science to discuss the future of the fast-expanding field of exoplanetary research, which now has nearly 1000 objects to analyze and compare and will develop even more quickly over the coming years. The forum discussions included a review of current observational knowledge, efforts for exoplanetary atmosphere characterization and their formation, water formation, atmospheric evolution, habitability aspects, and our understanding of how exoplanets interact with their stellar and galactic environment throughout their history. Several important and timely research areas of focus for further research efforts in the field were identified by the forum participants. These scientific topics are related to the origin and formation of water and its delivery to planetary bodies and the role of the disk in relation to planet formation, including constraints from observations as well as star-planet interaction processes and their consequences for atmosphere-magnetosphere environments, evolution, and habitability. The relevance of these research areas is outlined in this report, and possible themes for future ISSI workshops are identified that may be proposed by the international research community over the coming 2-3 years. Key Words: Exoplanets-Disks-Planet formation-Stellar activity-Water origin-Water delivery-Habitability. Astrobiology 13, xxx-xxx.
    Astrobiology 09/2013; · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present 3-D simulations of impacts into asteroid 21 Lutetia, the subject of a fly-by by the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Using a 3-D shape model of the asteroid, impacts of sizes sufficient to reproduce the observed craters in Lutetia's North Polar Crater Cluster (NPCC) as observed by the OSIRIS experiment have been simulated using the smoothed particle hydrodynamics technique. The asteroid itself has been modelled both as a homogeneous body and as a body with an iron core.
    09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The formation of a planetary core in terrestrial planets is still not well understood. It is commonly assumed that the separation of the iron and silicate phase happened rather rapidly. However, it is still unclear how and when this process took place. Recent re-search has lead to the conclusion that even relatively small bodies like asteroids can be differentiated. Merk et.al. (2002) showed that the interior is strongly heated due to the decay of 26 Al. Sometimes even the solidus temperature of silicate material is exceeded. Yoshino et. al. (2003) showed that heating within planetesimals by decay of short-lived radionuclides can increase the temperature sufficiently above the iron-sulphur melting point(≈ 1000 • C) and thus trigger the fast segregation of iron alloy. Therefore even small planetesimals (30km radius) are expected to be at least partially differentiated. Since these objects would have been most abundant in the terrestrial re-gion of the protoplanetary nebula (Kokubo, 2000), it is not unlikely that the Earth and other terrestial planets formed by accretion of previously differentiated planetesimals. From the above it is clear that planet formation and differentiation happened more or less simultaneously and therefore must also be considered simultaneously in a con-sistent theory. We propose a model in which the dynamics of planetary accretion and core accretion are made consistent. The timescale for differentiation of planetesimals by sinking of iron droplets is calculated for bodies of different sizes and compared to the typical collision timescale involving these planetesimals. We argue that by the time (or equivalently size of planetesimals) the two timescale become equal, planetary growth proceeds with differentiated bodies only.
    EGU 2008; 08/2013
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    ABSTRACT: The formation of a planetary core in terrestrial planets is still not well understood. It is commonly assumed that the separation of the iron and silicate phase happened rather rapidly. However, it is still unclear how and when this process took place. Recent re-search has lead to the conclusion that even relatively small bodies like asteroids can be differentiated. Merk et.al. (2002) showed that the interior is strongly heated due to the decay of 26 Al. Sometimes even the solidus temperature of silicate material is exceeded. Yoshino et. al. (2003) showed that heating within planetesimals by decay of short-lived radionuclides can increase the temperature sufficiently above the iron-sulphur melting point(≈ 1000 • C) and thus trigger the fast segregation of iron alloy. Therefore even small planetesimals (30km radius) are expected to be at least partially differentiated. Since these objects would have been most abundant in the terrestrial re-gion of the protoplanetary nebula (Kokubo, 2000), it is not unlikely that the Earth and other terrestial planets formed by accretion of previously differentiated planetesimals. From the above it is clear that planet formation and differentiation happened more or less simultaneously and therefore must also be considered simultaneously in a con-sistent theory. We propose a model in which the dynamics of planetary accretion and core accretion are made consistent. The timescale for differentiation of planetesimals by sinking of iron droplets is calculated for bodies of different sizes and compared to the typical collision timescale involving these planetesimals. We argue that by the time (or equivalently size of planetesimals) the two timescale become equal, planetary growth proceeds with differentiated bodies only.
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    ABSTRACT: The formation of a planetary core in terrestrial planets is still not well understood. Since planet differentiation already sets in during planet formation both mechanisms should also be considered simultaneously in a consistent theory. We propose a model in which the dynamics of planetary accre-tion and core formation are made consistent. The timescale for iron silicate segregation is computed for bodies of dif-ferent sizes and compared to the typical collision timescale involving these planetesimals. We argue that by the time (or equivalently size of planetesimals) the two timescales be-come equal, planetary growth proceeds with differentiated bodies only.
    EPSC 2008; 08/2013
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    ABSTRACT: We observed GJ 163 with HARPS, a spectrograph fiber-fed by the ESO/3.6m telescope of La Silla Observatory. Our settings and computation of radial velocities (RV) remained the same as for our GTO program and we refer the reader to Bonfils et al. (2013A&A...549A.109B) for a detailed description. We gathered RVs for 154 epochs spread over 2988 days (8.2 years) between UT 30 October 2003 and 04 January 2012. Table 6 (available in electronic form) lists all RVs in the barycentric reference frame of the Solar System. Four measurements have significantly higher uncertainties (the RVs taken at epochs BJD=2454804.7, 2455056.9, 2455057.9 and, 2455136.8 have uncertainties greater than twice the median uncertainty). We removed them and perform our analysis with the remaining 150 RVs. (1 data file).
    VizieR Online Data Catalog. 08/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Planet formation models have been developed during the last years in order to try to reproduce the observations of both the solar system, and the extrasolar planets. Some of these models have partially succeeded, focussing however on massive planets, and for the sake of simplicity excluding planets belonging to planetary systems. However, more and more planets are now found in planetary systems. This tendency, which is a result of both radial velocity, transit and direct imaging surveys, seems to be even more pronounced for low mass planets. These new observations require the improvement of planet formation models, including new physics, and considering the formation of systems. In a recent series of papers, we have presented some improvements in the physics of our models, focussing in particular on the internal structure of forming planets, and on the computation of the excitation state of planetesimals, and their resulting accretion rate. In this paper, we focus on the concurrent effect of the formation of more than one planet in the same protoplanetary disc, and show the effect, in terms of global architecture and composition of this multiplicity. We use a N-body calculation including collision detection to compute the orbital evolution of a planetary system. Moreover, we describe the effect of competition for accretion of gas and solids, as well as the effect of gravitational interactions between planets. We show that the masses and semi-major axis of planets are modified by both the effect of competition and gravitational interactions. We also present the effect of the assumed number of forming planets in the same system (a free parameter of the model), as well as the effect of the inclination and eccentricity damping.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 07/2013; 558. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The meter-per-second precision achieved by today velocimeters enables the search for 1-10 M_Earth planets in the habitable zone of cool stars. This paper reports on the detection of 3 planets orbiting GJ163 (HIP19394), a M3 dwarf monitored by our ESO/HARPS search for planets. We made use of the HARPS spectrograph to collect 150 radial velocities of GJ163 over a period of 8 years. We searched the RV time series for coherent signals and found 5 distinct periodic variabilities. We investigated the stellar activity and casted doubts on the planetary interpretation for 2 signals. Before more data can be acquired we concluded that at least 3 planets are orbiting GJ163. They have orbital periods of P_b=8.632+-0.002, P_c=25.63+-0.03 and P_d=604+-8 days and minimum masses msini = 10.6+-0.6, 6.8+-0.9, and 29+-3 M_Earth, respectively. We hold our interpretations for the 2 additional signals with periods P_(e)=19.4 and P_(f)=108 days. The inner pair presents an orbital period ratio of 2.97, but a dynamical analysis of the system shows that it lays outside the 3:1 mean motion resonance. GJ163c, in particular, is a super-Earth with an equilibrium temperature of T_eq = (302+-10) (1-A)^(1/4) K and may lie in the so called habitable zone for albedo values (A=0.34-0.89) moderately higher than that of Earth (A_Earth=0.2-0.3).
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 06/2013; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ground based radial velocity (RV) searches continue to discover exoplanets below Neptune mass down to Earth mass. Furthermore, ground based transit searches now reach milli-mag photometric precision and can discover Neptune size planets around bright stars. These searches will find exoplanets around bright stars anywhere on the sky, their discoveries representing prime science targets for further study due to the proximity and brightness of their host stars. A mission for transit follow-up measurements of these prime targets is currently lacking. The first ESA S-class mission CHEOPS (CHaracterizing ExoPlanet Satellite) will fill this gap. It will perform ultra-high precision photometric monitoring of selected bright target stars almost anywhere on the sky with sufficient precision to detect Earth sized transits. It will be able to detect transits of RV-planets by photometric monitoring if the geometric configuration results in a transit. For Hot Neptunes discovered from the ground, CHEOPS will be able to improve the transit light curve so that the radius can be determined precisely. Because of the host stars' brightness, high precision RV measurements will be possible for all targets. All planets observed in transit by CHEOPS will be validated and their masses will be known. This will provide valuable data for constraining the mass-radius relation of exoplanets, especially in the Neptune-mass regime. During the planned 3.5 year mission, about 500 targets will be observed. There will be 20% of open time available for the community to develop new science programmes.
    05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Dates (BJD), radial velocities (RV), and RV errors of the stars: HD103774, HD109271, BD-061339. (3 data files).
    VizieR Online Data Catalog. 05/2013;

Publication Stats

5k Citations
1,017.91 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1998–2013
    • Universität Bern
      • Physikalisches Institut
      Bern, BE, Switzerland
  • 2010
    • Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias
      San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Canary Islands, Spain
  • 2009
    • University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis
      • Laboratoire Lagrange
      Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
  • 2006
    • University of Geneva
      • Department of Astronomy
      Genève, GE, Switzerland
  • 1988–2006
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2005
    • University of Lisbon
      Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2004
    • Loyola University Maryland
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2001–2003
    • Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur
      Grasse, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
  • 1994–1999
    • University of California, Santa Cruz
      • Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
      Santa Cruz, California, United States
    • Planetary Science Institute
      Tucson, Arizona, United States
  • 1992–1998
    • The University of Arizona
      • Department of Planetary Sciences
      Tucson, Arizona, United States
  • 1993
    • United States Naval Observatory
      Washington, Maine, United States
  • 1986–1987
    • Los Alamos National Laboratory
      Los Alamos, California, United States