Asteroid Lutetia, imaged by the ESA Rosetta space probe on its way to comet 67P. (Source: esa/Rosetta)
Asteroid Lutetia, imaged by the ESA Rosetta space probe on its way to comet 67P. (Source: esa/Rosetta)

I have been interested in “all things space” since early childhood. I remember waiting for the Galileo space probe to send back the first close-up pictures of asteroids as a teenager. Later, I also followed closely the discovery of the first exoplanets.

Today, my interests are still broad, but my career has focussed on the analysis of noble gases in extraterrestrial materials. In particular, I have measured He and Ne in tiny, rare (and occasionally exotic) samples, including presolar grains, olivine grains brought back by the JAXA Hayabusa space probe from asteroid Itokawa, and fossil micro-meteoritic chromite grains from an asteroid break-up event, recovered from Ordovician sediments. I also have a strong interest in meteorites with orbits and their cosmic histories, and I have published on the Giant Impact, Hg in meteorites, the Earth’s impact record, and on using meteorites to infer the stability of decay constants.

The overarching goal of my research is to reach a better understanding of how the asteroid belt has affected the origin and evolution of life on Earth – and, by extension, the role of asteroid belts for habitability everywhere in the universe.