CONGRATULATIONS to Francisco Mendez for being awarded the Chambliss Medal from the American Astronomical Society for his poster presentation. He was one of only three undergraduate students awardees in the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award competition for undergraduate students at the virtual 236th AAS meeting.

The Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards are given to recognize exemplary research by AAS Undergraduate and Graduate Student Members who present posters at meetings of the AAS. Awardees are honored with a Chambliss medal or, in the case of honorable mention, a certificate.

The Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards are named for longtime AAS member Carlson R. Chambliss, who taught at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania from 1970 to 2003. Dr. Chambliss not only donated the funds to mint the medals, but also designed them himself.


For the last few years, the UF Department of Astronomy has worked with the UF spinoff company Satlantis to develop a state-of-the-art space camera for scientific and commercial applications: the “integrated Standard Imager for Microsatellites” (iSIM). The iSIM camera concept was originally designed in our department to obtain very deep images of dark haloes in galaxies around the Milky Way. These observations will provide the definitive information to unveil the nature of the elusive Dark Matter that fills the Universe. This is the main goal of the DUNES astrophysics mission (PI: R. Guzman), currently in preparation. But iSIM also provides very competitive performance for Earth Observations and its commercial applications led by Satlantis.

A major milestone in this technological development was achieved May 20, 2020, with the launch of the JAXA HTV-9 mission from Tanegashima​ (Japan). The HTV-9 mission is taking our iSIM-170 camera to the International Space Station (ISS), where it will dock on May 25th, 2020. Our camera is scheduled to be positioned on the outside platform of the Japanese KIBO module on June 10th and start taking images soon after. For the first time ever, a camera with just 170mm mirror diameter and a total mass less than 15 kg will demonstrate it can observe the Earth from space with sub-meter spatial resolution. To be precise, iSIM-170 aims to detect objects as small as 80 cm in size while taking images over a typical area of 12000 square km. And all this while traveling at 27600 km/h, 400 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.

The iSIM technology is another example of the benefits offered by a stable Instrumentation Program in our Department, providing access to state-of-the-art expertise in optics, mechanics, electronics and software to support the research activities of our faculty and students.

Credit: R. Guzman, B. Zhao, S. Schofield, and the Satlantis team

The University of Florida Department of Astronomy hosted a collaborative meeting including representatives from universities from across the state of Florida.  With an overarching goal of promoting astronomy research, education, and outreach, the representatives discussed ways that individual faculty members and institutions as a whole could better work together to serve our students and communities.