Mon, Feb 10 | Petroleum Club of Fort Worth

FWGS February 2020 Luncheon

Paul Abell, Chief Scientist for Small Body Exploration, NASA Johnson Space Center
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FWGS February 2020 Luncheon

Time & Location

Feb 10, 2020, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Petroleum Club of Fort Worth, 777 Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76102, USA

Event Details

Time: 11:30 am Buffet, Noon Speaker Presentation

RSVP online by Thursday, February 6th at Midnight

Cost: $30 with RSVP, $35 with no RSVP, student members eat free with RSVP (Student Members please directly email the FWGS Secretary to RSVP).

Reminder: FWGS is charged for all RSVP's, so if you RSVP and do not attend you will be contacted concerning payment.

Speaker: Paul Abell, Chief Scientist for Small Body Exploration, NASA Johnson Space Center

Title:  The Age of Asteroid Exploration: The Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Missions 

Abstract:  This presentation will cover the background of small bodies of the Solar System and discuss their importance for science, human exploration, resource utilization, and planetary defense.  A detailed account will be presented of the current progress of JAXA’s Hayabusa2 and NASA’s OSIRIS-REx missions, along with some insights regarding their respective asteroid targets, Ryugu and Bennu. 


Paul Abell is the Chief Scientist for Small Body Exploration in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. His main areas of interest are physical characterization of near-Earth objects (NEOs) via ground-based and spacecraft observations, examination of NEOs for future robotic and human exploration, mitigation of potentially hazardous asteroids and comets, and identification of potential resources within the NEO population for future in situ utilization. 

He was a science team member on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa near-Earth asteroid sample-return mission and participated in the successful recovery of the spacecraft‘s sample return capsule, which returned to Woomera, Australia in June 2010. Paul is currently a team member of the Hayabusa2 mission and is aiding the cooperation between Hayabusa2 and NASA’s OSIRIS REx spacecraft teams as they investigate and sample their respective near-Earth asteroids.

Since 2006 Paul has been a member of an internal NASA team that has been examining the possibility of sending astronauts to NEOs for human missions. He is also an investigation team member on both NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) and Near-Earth Object Camera (NEO Cam) proposed planetary defense missions. Asteroid 8139 (1980 UM1) is named Paulabell in recognition of Paul's contributions to NEO research and exploration studies.

Work Experience:

2010-present National Aeronautics & Space Administration

2016 – present Chief Scientist for Small Body Exploration – Leads NASA’s interests for cooperative work between the OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 sample return missions, supporting human spaceflight initiatives across the Solar System, team member of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission for planetary defense, HERMES payload team member for the International Space Station, advisor to commercial companies for asteroid in situ resource identification, characterization, and utilization.

2010 – 2016 Lead Scientist for Planetary Small Bodies – Helped lead the work involved in refining and characterizing near-Earth asteroids as human spaceflight destinations, team member of the Near-Earth Object Camera (NEO Cam) mission and JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission.

2007-2010 Planetary Science Institute

2008 – 2010 Research Scientist – Continued studies of remote sensing of near-Earth objects, and participated as a team member in the JAXA-led Hayabusa sample return mission. 

2007 – 2008 Associate Research Scientist – Conducted ground-based near-IR spectral studies of near-Earth asteroids and cometary nuclei.

2004-2007 Postdoctoral Studies

2005 – 2007 NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at NASA Johnson Space Center

2004 – 2005 National Research Council Associate at NASA Johnson Space Center


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

December 2003  Ph.D. in Geology

University of North Dakota

December 1993 M.S. in Space Studies

Colgate University 

May 1990 B.A. in  Astronomy/Physics

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