Mitzi L. Adams, Astrophysicist, NASA/MSFC, Science Research Office, Heliophysics and Planetary Science.
Ms. Adams is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, where she wasable to volunteer at Fernbank Science Center as a high-school observatory/planetarium assistant. Her research interests involve the magnetic fields associated with sunspots and the mechanisms that drive solar erputions. Ms. Adams is part of a team, teaching “Theories of the Universe” at UAH. She has led several sessions concerning the thoughts and perceptions of the cosmos by the Maya and Inca civilizations of Central and South America. Also interested in solar eclipses, Ms. Adams has journeyed away from home to view four total solar eclipses: Georgia (March 1970), Chile (November 1994), Romania (August 1999), and Zambia (June 2001). Ms. Adams has five cats, the oldest is 22.
William “Bill” J. Cooke Jr. is the lead of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office and is located at Marshall Space Flight Center. In this role, he is responsible for generating risk assessments of meteoroid environments for spacecraft and crew, and rebuilding the U.S.’s meteoroid expertise that was lost during the 1970s and 1980s when the Apollo program came to an end. In addition, he generates meteor shower forecasts for spacecraft operations on behalf of the agency.
Cooke was a primary coordinator of the NASA and Department of Defense’s response to the Leonid meteor storms of 1999, 2001 and 2002. He also established NASA’s All Sky Fireball Network — a network of cameras designed to observe meteors known as fireballs.
Prior to joining NASA, Cooke was an analyst for the Long Duration Exposure Facility Interplanetary Dust Experiment, STS-3 Shuttle Induced Atmosphere Experiment, and Orbital Debris and Meteoroid Counter on the third stage of the Clementine mission to the moon. He calibrated the Optical Probe Experiment onboard the European Space Agency’s Giotto mission to Halley’s Comet and developed a pointing algorithm for the balloon-borne Gamma Ray Advanced Detector.
Cooke has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy from Valdosta State College and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Astronomy from the University of Florida. He is a member of the International Meteor Organization. Throughout his career, he has earned the Exceptional Service Medal, Silver Snoopy Award and Director’s Commendation Award.
Cooke has been an avid model rocketeer since 1968 and is very active in promoting hobby rocketry at local schools and organizations. On May 24, 2005, main belt asteroid 15058 was named Billcooke in honor of Cooke’s contributions to the field of meteors.
Mark ‘Indy’ Kochte had always been interested in space and astronomy since he was a kid. To that end, he pursued a degree in Astronomy & Physics from the Ohio State University, and shortly thereafter joined the Hubble Project prior to launch of the Space Telescope, where he was instrumental in performing the data processing and archiving for Hubble. After 17 years of this, he took a position on the ailing FUSE mission to tackle the unique challenges of planning and scheduling of that ultraviolet-viewing space telescope. In 2006 he was given the opportunity to climb aboard the MESSENGER mission as a Payload & Mission Operations Specialist, sequencing critical instrument and spacecraft commanding. Late summer 2014, he also became involved with the New Horizons mission as a Mission Analyst to cover the command sequencing of the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) plasma spectrometer. Throughout his tenure in space mission operations, Indy has published a half a dozen papers on spacecraft design and mission operations, as well as co-authored a dozen additional papers on spacecraft design, mission operations, and science analysis results of early exoplanet research.
Not being an all-work/no-play kinda guy, in his spare time, when not staring at the stars, Indy can be found exploring our planet. In addition to having authored the rock climbing guidebook “Climb Maryland!”, he is often out scaling cliffs from Maryland to Thailand, mapping cave systems in West Virginia, mountain climbing in Colorado, California, Washington and Wyoming, diving for fossilized Megalodon shark teeth (or to just look at the pretty fish) in the Atlantic or Caribbean, working on various time-lapse and astro-lapse photography projects, or generally capturing moments in time by photographing the world we live in. No moss gathers under his feet!
Harold (“Hal”) A. McAlister was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After graduating in 1971 with a BA in physics from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, which named him its 2008 Distinguished Alumnus, he attended the University of Virginia and received MS and PhD degrees in astronomy in 1973 and 1975. Following a two-year appointment as a post-doctoral researcher at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, McAlister joined the faculty of Georgia State University in 1977 where he is now Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, having retired from teaching in 2011. His earlier work was in the area of binary star speckle interferometry, which has now become the primary means for measuring the orbital motion in resolved binary star systems.
His research in high resolution astronomical imaging has been continuously supported by the National Science Foundation since 1978 with additional grant support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Naval Research Laboratory, the Space Telescope Science Institute as well as from private foundations. The total of this peer-reviewed support exceeds $15M. McAlister is the author or co-author of some 300 research publications and has served on numerous review, advisory and oversight panels for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Academy of Sciences. He has directed the studies of nearly two-dozen doctoral students and post-doctoral research associates. McAlister is the recipient of the 2007 Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for “significant observational results made possible by innovative advances in astronomical instrumentation.”
McAlister founded the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) at Georgia State in 1983 and continues to serve at its director. CHARA has gone on to build the world’s most powerful optical interferometric telescope array – the CHARA Array, located on the grounds of Mount Wilson Observatory. The Array produced the first image ever obtained for a resolved main sequence star – Altair – in 2007.
In addition to teaching and directing CHARA, McAlister served from 2003 until 2014 as Director of the Mount Wilson Observatory.
McAlister has published two books: Diary of a Fire relating the hour-by-hour events surrounding the 2009 Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest that threatened Mount Wilson Observatory for nearly a month; and an astronomy-themed thriller/mystery novel Sunward Passage. Both are available as Amazon Kindle books.
He is married to Susan Johnson McAlister, who provided extensive volunteer services to Mount Wilson Observatory during his directorship. Their daughter, Merritt Ellen McAlister is an Atlanta attorney.