David A. Minton, a third-year planetary sciences graduate student, will receive the 2008 Kuiper Memorial Award. The award is presented to University of Arizona students in the field of planetary sciences who have excelled in academic work and research.
'David is smart, enthusiastic, imaginative and hard working,' planetary sciences professor Renu Malhotra, Minton's graduate adviser, said. 'He has a genuine enthusiasm for planetary science, has strong technical skills and plunges into research projects with great energy.'
Minton enrolled in the UA's planetary sciences department in 2005, after graduate work at the University of Maryland and earning a degree in aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University. At North Carolina State, Minton led teams that designed a wind-powered Mars rover called Tumbleweed and a Mars climate orbiter with deployable balloons.
Minton is currently publishing an innovative analysis of small planetary bodies that resemble 'sand piles.' This work, which is a generalization of centuries-old mathematical theories, may provide an explanation for the 'flying saucer' appearance of objects like two of Saturn's satellites, Atlas and Pan.
Minton's paper will appear in the international planetary science journal Icarus.
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