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Welcome

HIGP is a multi-disciplinary institute conducting advanced research, technology development, teaching, workforce training, and service in cutting-edge oceanographic, atmospheric, geophysical, geological, and planetary science and engineering. We are a part of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the Mānoa (Honolulu) campus of the University of Hawai‘i. Our Institute is home to approximately 100 faculty members, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students with access to state-of-the-art laboratories and instrumentation, research vessels, and far-ranging field sites. HIGP partners with the College of Engineering for satellite fabrication and launch through the Hawai‘i Space Flight Laboratory. Our expertise spans the globe from pole to pole, from the deep Earth interior to the upper atmosphere, and extends to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

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News   [Links open in new windows.]


March – onward
COVID-19 UH Mānoa Updates [ L I N K ]

This page is designed to keep the UH Mānoa community informed about the COVID-19 situation related to the virus and provide any UH-specific information.



July 28, 2020
Three HIGP Scientists Countdown to Mars 2020 Rover Launch
Illustration depicts NASA's Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


Perseverance, built at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is the most sophisticated rover NASA has ever sent to Mars. It is loaded with scientific instruments the teams will use to search for signs of ancient microbial life, characterize the planet's geology and climate, and collect carefully selected rock and sediment samples for possible return to Earth.
On July 30, the Perseverance rover will be launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Since being selected for the NASA instrument teams in 2014, three HIGP scientists have been hard at work to develop, test, and refine scientific instruments to search for clues about past life on Mars.

Sarah Fagents is the Mastcam-Z team's volcanologist. Mastcam-Z is the mast-mounted multispectral camera system. Fagents' daily role will largely involve analysis and interpretation of Mastcam-Z images to help decide which rock outcrops to target with specialized instruments, as well as what to sample, with an eye toward assessing the history of Martian volcanic eruptions.

Shiv Sharma and Anupam Misra, both experts in Raman spectroscopy and fluorescence, will assist with detection of biosignature-indicators that life has been or is present. They are team members of the SuperCam instrument that will be used to determine chemical composition and minerals present, detect organic compounds and biosignatures from a distance on and in rocks, soils, and sediment layers on Mars.

For more information please read Marcie Grabowski's full SOEST News Article.

All are invited to join NASA's countdown to launch and to follow along on social media:
Twitter:  @NASA@NASAPersevere@NASAMars
Facebook: NASANASAPersevere
Instagram: NASA
Perseverance videos will be posted to the  NASA JPL YouTube channel and NASA YouTube channel.


July 21, 2020
Hope Ishii Recognized for Outstanding Contributions in Meteoritics
Dr. Hope Ishii elected as a Fellow of The Meteoritical Society in recognition of her outstanding contributions to meteoritics.


Dr. Hope Ishii (HIGP Research Professor) was elected as a Fellow of The Meteoritical Society (MetSoc) in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of meteoritics. This honor is reserved for only 1% of the membership every two years. MetSoc is an international organization dedicated to the promotion of research and education in planetary science with emphasis on the studies of meteorites and other extraterrestrial materials that further our understanding of the origin of the Solar System. The Society was established in 1933.
Dr. Ishii studies the chemistry and structure of extraterrestrial materials from comets and asteroids to gain insight into the processes that formed our Solar System. She is also the director of the Advanced Electron Microscopy Center (AEMC), which houses an aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope and a focused ion beam instrument, and Ishii uses these high powered microscopes and others to study meteorites and space dust at the nano-scale.

Ishii's contributions to the field of meteoritics have improved our understanding of NASA Stardust Mission comet dust and its capture, with implications for large-scale transport in the early Solar System and the existence of a comet-asteroid continuum. She played a role in demonstrating that water is produced during space weathering, relevant to precursors for the development of life on Earth and elsewhere in the universe. Ishii also found low-temperature carbon compounds in certain components in comets that indicate they have origins in interstellar dust present before the formation of our Sun. Ishii is currently involved in studies of interplanetary dust, lunar regolith, and samples returned from the asteroid Itokawa by JAXA's Hayabusa Mission.

"This is a completely unexpected honor! As a new Fellow of the Meteoritical Society, I find myself in the company of the great names in my field," says Ishii. Fellows selected for this year will be announced during the Society's virtual Business Meeting that will be held on August 12, 2020. In-person recognition of the Fellows is planned for the MetSoc Annual Meeting scheduled next year in Chicago. Congratulations!


June 30, 2020
Celebrating with Patty Fryer
The Artemis CubeSat Kit kick-off meeting with faculty, staff and students.
Well-wishers gather in person and virtually to celebrate with Patty Fryer. Photo courtesy of Pete Mouginis-Mark.

A zoom celebration for Patty Fryer (right), with in-person congratulations from Rob Wright (left), Gerard Fryer (center), Jeff Taylor (background) and more, was held today on the occasion of her retirement after nearly four decades of dedicated research, teaching, and service at UH Mānoa. Dr. Fryer is an authority on the geology/petrology of subduction zones, has expertise in the Mariana Trench, and has led many scientific cruises. Her distinguished accomplishments also include serving as scientific adviser for the Mariana Trench expedition in May 2019 (see our 2019 news item) and for the 2012 expedition during which James Cameron became the first person to complete a solo dive to the deepest place on Earth (see our 2012 news item and our 2014 news item about the dive-project's documentary premiere.) Congratulations and best wishes!


June 19, 2020
Nicole Lautze Awarded Tenure
Dr. Lautze appeared on ThinkTech Hawaii's show in April, 2018 to talk about Geothermal Energy in Hawaii. HIGP's Nicole Lautze (Associate Researcher) has been awarded tenure. Dr. Lautze is Director of the Hawai‘i Groundwater & Geothermal Resources Center and Associate Director of the Water Resources Research Center. She is the recipient of the 2017 Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Education Award (read more in the HIGP news) and is recognized for her excellent work by her peers, colleagues, and students. "She is one of our most dynamic faculty members, executing and pursuing a range of big projects," Robert Wright, Researcher and Interim Director of HIGP, said in his remarks to the Institute. Congratulations!


May 28, 2020
UH Awarded $500K from NASA to Develop Small-satellite Educational Kits
The Artemis CubeSat Kit kick-off meeting with faculty, staff and students.
The Artemis CubeSat Kit kick-off meeting with faculty, staff, and students.

In a bold new initiative to inspire the next generation, NASA has awarded $2.4 million to six universities, including the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, as part of its Artemis Student Challenges–NASA STEM Engagement. UH Mānoa received an Artemis Core Technologies Award of $500,000 to create an affordable 1U CubeSat kit, which will help develop a robust aerospace program starting at the undergraduate level, including hardware, software, and an online lab course. HIGP faculty member, Dr. Frances (Frankie) Zhu, is leading the UH team involving HIGP and Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory, including Dr. Miguel Nunes, Amber Imai-Hong, Kasey Hagi, and Josef Ben Gershom. Undergraduate students will help develop all aspects of the project under the guidance of HSFL engineers, and will have paid internship positions. Read more at UH News and the NASA Press Release.


May 26, 2020
Scientists Float a New Theory on the Medusae Fossae Formation on Mars
Mars surface image generated by P. Mouginis-Mark (HIGP) from a CTX image draped over a digital elevation model created by Harold Garbeil (HIGP). Pete Mouginis-Mark (HIGP Emeritus Faculty) and Jim Zimbelman (National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution) studied the surface of Mars in an area near the northern lowlands–southern highlands boundary and formulated a new formation model for the geological unit. Their publication appeared in Icarus: Rafted Pumice: A New Model for the Formation of the Medusae Fossae Formation, Mars. See also Nola Taylor Redd's EOS News Release: Scientists Float a New Theory on the Medusae Fossae Formation.

May 15, 2020
James Potemra Awarded 2020 UH Mānoa Presidential Award for Outstanding Service
Dr. James Potemra Awarded 2020 UH Manoa Presidential Award for Outstanding Service.


Dr. James Potemra has been honored with a University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Presidential Award for Outstanding Service. This award recognizes Potemra's outstanding service, heart-felt dedication, and noble contributions as a valued member of the campus community.
Dr. Potemra has been instrumental in developing programs and addressing key challenges in physical oceanography data application at national and international levels. His work includes contributing to the development and management of the Asia-Pacific Data Research Center (APDRC); providing environmental data to the worldwide community, which was recognized by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology; and assisting Japanese leadership with post-2011 East Japan tsunami data modeling. He helped build the data management system for the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) from scratch into an application used for optimum cargo ship routing and ocean rescue; acted as co-principal investigator with colleagues on the Hawai‘i Ocean Time Series and the Aloha Cabled Observatory program; and maintained the Pacific El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Applications Center in an advisory role to NOAA. Potemra continues to be a leader in his discipline and actively engaged in campus and community initiatives through the faculty senate executive committee and other advisory roles. Read more in the SOEST News and UH Mānoa 2020 Awards. Congratulations!


April 30, 2020
Watumull 2020-2021 Award to Chiara Ferrari-Wong
HIGP/ES graduate student Chiara Ferrari-Wong has won the 2020-2021 Watumull Award.
The J. Watumull Merit Scholarship, supported by the Watumull Foundation, is awarded annually to a graduate student in the Department of Earth Sciences who is recognized for academic excellence. We are pleased to share the news that Chiara Ferrari-Wong has been awarded this honor for the 2020-2021 academic year. Chiara is a second year PhD student at HIGP/ES studying the Moon and remote sensing with Paul Lucey. She is working in two areas: detecting volatiles on the Moon and developing spaceflight instrument hardware for the Hyperspectral Thermal Imager (HyTI), which is a CubeSat for Earth remote sensing. Chiara graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Astrophysics in 2018. While in New York, she worked with Carter Emmart at the Hayden Planetarium on rendering digital terrain models of planetary surfaces in OpenSpace, software designed to visualize the entire known universe. Congratulations!
[Photo on the left shows Chiara Ferrari-Wong and PhD advisor, Paul Lucey, inside the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center (pristine samples returned from the Apollo missions are in the display cabinet). On the right, Chiara is in the HIGP hardware development lab.]


April 17, 2020
HIGP Alumna News: NASA 2020 Early Career Award to Dr. Myriam Telus
HIGP/GG Alumna Dr. Myriam Telus has won a 2020 NASA Early Career Award. We are pleased to share the news that Dr. Myriam Telus, an Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz (GG/HIGP Ph.D., 2015) is one of six early-career scientists awarded a NASA 2020 Early Career Award. Dr. Telus has received funding from NASA through the Planetary Science Early Career Award program to support her research in cosmochemistry. Read more in the UC Santa Cruz News. Congratulations!


April 9, 2020
Essential Satellite Research and Development Continues in Clean Room
Yosef integrating the Neutron-1 satellite, which has its structural outer shell removed. HIGP and Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory engineers and researchers are continuing their essential work on two satellites in a dedicated state-of-the-art clean room, observing social distancing in addition to best practices while working in the clean room's controlled environment. They are building and testing Neutron-1, a neutron detection mission, and HyTI, a hyperspectral thermal imager. Yosef Ben Gershom (satellite I&T engineer) is pictured during integration of the Neutron-1 satellite, which has its structural outer shell removed. (Photo credit: UH News.) The team consists of Luke Flynn, Miguel Nunes, Frances Zhu, Trevor Sorensen, Amber Imai-Hong, Isaac Rodrigues, Eric Pilger, Lloyd French, Lance Yoneshige, Yosef Ben Gershom, Kasey Hagi, Craig Opie, Spencer Young, Kenny Son, Cameron Asaoka, and has included dozens of undergraduate students. Read more in the UH News.


March 2020
In Remembrance of Dr. Jeffrey F. Bell (1955—2020)

With deep sadness, we share the news of Dr. Jeffrey F. Bell's passing on March 11, 2020. He was a faculty member in HIGP from 1984–2000. Jeff was primarily known for his research on the Moon and asteroids. With HIGP colleague Dr. B. Ray Hawke, Jeff studied lunar dark-halo impact craters and the Reiner Gamma swirl to look for signs of impactor residue from carbonaceous asteroids or comets. Jeff was the guiding force behind the 52-color Survey, which at the time was the largest set of near-infrared asteroid reflectance spectra. The 52-color survey data was used in a large number of papers to understand the mineralogy of main-belt asteroids. Jeff introduced the K-type asteroid taxonomic class for bodies intermediate in spectral properties between S- and C-types, and noted their spectral similarity to CV/CO chondrites. His chapter "Asteroids: The Big Picture" (written with Don Davis, Bill Hartmann, and Mike Gaffey) was one of the closing chapters in Asteroids II and made a number of predictions (e.g., ordinary chondrite bodies are more abundant at smaller sizes) that were later found to be true. Jeff also did research on the composition and origin of the dark material on Saturn's moon Iapetus. Jeff was also known for having a very sarcastic sense of humor and for giving very informative and hilarious talks at conferences, often expressing his rather contrarian viewpoints. Jeff had an encyclopedic knowledge of military history and conspiracy theories. For several years in the early-mid 2000s, Jeff wrote opinion pieces for Spacedaily.com. Asteroid (3526) Jeffbell is named in his honor. He received his B.S. from the University of Michigan and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Hawai‘i. [From the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS page) of the American Astronomical Society.]

March 6, 2020
Investigating Water Ice, Space Weathering on the Moon
Artist rendition of future astronauts working on the Moon. Credit: NASA.
A new consortium that includes researchers from HIGP will investigate the origins and evolution of water and other volatiles, or low-boiling point compounds, on the surface of the Moon. The team is one of NASA's eight new Solar system Exploration Research Virtual Institutes (SSERVI). The UH component of the grant will bring $2.7 million to the university over five years and will be led by Hope Ishii (HIGP Research professor). Other HIGP members of the team are Paul Lucey, John Bradley, Shuai Li, Tayro Acosta-Maeda, and Barbara Bruno. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers will also be engaged in the effort. Principal investigator is Jeffrey Gillis-Davis, formerly of HIGP and now at Washington University in St. Louis.

The grant to the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Evaluating Volatile Origins (ICE Five-O) will allow the researchers to study the effects of interactions of lunar soil and simulants with volatiles at nanometer length scales in the transmission electron microscope housed in the UH Advanced Electron Microscopy Center, all while controlling the temperature from the cryogenic conditions in permanently-shadowed regions to the warmer temperatures of sunlit regions. This will also allow the researchers to study the effects of space weathering in the harsh space environment. ICE Five-O will also address curation protocols for sample return and the evolution of volatiles and minerals within long-duration, curated samples. See Marcie Grabowski's full SOEST News Release. Illustration: Artist rendition of future astronauts on the Moon. Image credit: NASA.


February 20, 2020
Analyses of Solar Wind Samples Suggest New Physics of Massive Solar Ejections
Image of active regions on the Sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA.
A team of scientists led by HIGP Researcher Gary Huss and including HIGP Specialist Kazuhide Nagashima, and two former HIGP Post-Doctoral Researchers Elizabeth Koeman-Shields (Angelo State University, TX) and Ryan Ogliore (Washington University in St. Louis), studied samples of solar wind collected by NASA's Genesis mission. Their work has helped refine the understanding of the abundance of hydrogen, helium, and other elements present in the solar wind and plasma bursts from our Sun. The team's publication appeared in Meteoritics & Planetary Science: Hydrogen Fluence in Genesis Collectors: Implications for Acceleration of Solar Wind and for Solar Metallicity. See Marcie Grabowski's full SOEST News Release. Image: Active regions on the Sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The glowing hot gas traces out the twists and loops of the Sun's magnetic field lines. Image credit: NASA/SDO/AIA.


February 12, 2020
Hope Ishii is Newly Elected Vice Chair of the American Physical Society's Far West Section
Dr. Hope Ishii (center) with fellow scientists at the capital during the APS 2020 Leadership Meeting.
Hope Ishii, HIGP Researcher and Director of the UH Advanced Electron Microscopy Center was in Washington D.C. in late January for the American Physical Society's (APS) Leadership Meeting. Dr. Ishii is serving this year as Vice Chair, a position that progresses to Chair, for the APS Far West Section, which includes California, Nevada, and Hawai‘i. APS is a non-profit professional organization representing over 55,000 members in academia, national laboratories, and industry, working to advance the knowledge of physics. Photo: Hope Ishii (center) with fellow scientists at the capital during APS 2020 Leadership Meeting.


January 13, 2020
GPS Measurements Reveal Earthquake Dynamics and Earth Structure
Dr. Jonathan Weiss while monitoring GPS-Ground Motion sensors in the Andean Highlands. Credit: J. Weiss.
Jonathan Weiss (2016 PhD HIGP/Geology and Geophysics and now a Postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Potsdam Institute for Geosciences, Germany) is first author on a research paper with an international team studying earthquake deformation and structure in South America. Co-authors include HIGP Associate Researcher James Foster and graduate student Jonathan Avery. The team used Global Positioning System stations to investigate the surface motions that occur after very large earthquakes. Their publication appeared in Sciences Advances: Illuminating Subjection Zone Rheological Properties in the Wake of a Giant Earthquake. For more news coverage, see University of Potsdam News and the SOEST News. Photo: Jonathan Weiss while monitoring GPS-Ground Motion sensors in the Andean Highlands. Credit: J. Weiss.


January 10, 2020
Volcanism on Venus Studied by David Trang
False-color heat pattern image of a volcanic peak on Venus, derived from ESA-VIRTIS data. Image credit: NASA.
A team of planetary scientists including HIGP Assistant Researcher David Trang has published results from their studies of the alteration rates of the mineral olivine under venusian conditions that suggest Venus may be volcanically active today. Trang's efforts included relating laboratory results to the results from spacecraft data. Their studies suggest lava flows on Venus are very young, implying Venus has active volcanoes. The team includes first author Justin Filiberto (Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, TX), Allan Treiman (LPI), and Martha Gilmore (Wesleyan University). Their paper appeared in Science Advances this month: Present-day Volcanism on Venus as Evidenced from Weathering Rates of Olivine. For more news coverage, see Marcie Grabowski's full SOEST News Release, The New York Times, and Smithsonian Magazine.


Fall 2020: EPET 301 Offered as part of the Certificate Program
HIGP EPET The undergraduate certificate program called EPET – Earth and Planetary Exploration Technology launched in the Spring 2020 semester. Comprised of four courses over four semesters, including a capstone design project, the program is designed for undergraduates in science and engineering, merging interests in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and the College of Engineering. The 15-credit program combines project-based learning with lectures and field studies covering "why" and "how to" do space and planetary exploration.
  • EPET 201 Exploration of the Solar System
  • EPET 301 Space Science and Instrumentation
  • EPET 302 Space Mission Design
  • EPET 401 Capstone Project: Producing a Science Satellite
The second course of the series, EPET 301, launches Fall 2020. Visit the EPET webpage for more information.


HIGP News and Seminar Archives for [ 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 ].

Find out what else is happening through the SOEST News and Press Releases.



The Work of HIGP and Why We Do It

HIGP solves fundamental problems in Earth and Planetary Science by the invention, development, and application of state-of-the-art instrumentation, exploration, measurement, and data analysis technologies and techniques. Read more here (pdf).



Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology
School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
University of Hawai‘i
1680 East-West Road,
Pacific Ocean Science & Technology (POST) Building, Room 602
Honolulu, HI 96822
Office Phone: 808.956.8760
Fax: 808.956.3188
Dr. Robert Wright, Interim Director

Visit us: latitude, longitude for smartphone maps or GPS: 21.2975, -157.8161.

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Top banner images: HIGP excels in advanced research, teaching, and service. Our expertise spans the globe from pole to pole, from the depths of the seas to the tops of volcanoes, and extends to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. These images show, from left to right: satellite communication dish, a map of tsunami wave heights, map of mid-ocean ridge/seafloor spreading, the IMI (Imaging and Mapping Instrument) deep-towed ocean sonar system, Earth's Moon, active Hawaiian lava flow, Mars, a meteorite collected in Antarctica, and GPS field station.

Updated 28 July 2020



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