Research Interests

Asteroid Lutetia, imaged by the ESA Rosetta space probe on its way to 67P.
Asteroid Lutetia, imaged by the ESA Rosetta space probe on its way to 67P.

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. Later, I closely followed the discovery of the first exoplanets.

Today, my interests are still broad, but my career has found its current focus in 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 an interest in meteorites with orbits and their cosmic histories, and I have recently published on the Giant Impact, on Hg in meteorites and on using meteorites to infer the stability of decay constants.

The main focus of my current project (funded by one of Swiss National Science Foundation’s Ambizione grants) is the recovery, identification and analysis of extraterrestrial dust from the “Veritas” asteroid break-up event 8 Ma ago in terrestrial sediments. Together with my student Amy A. Plant, I also look into extraterrestrial materials in ferromanganese crusts from the deep sea and in micrometeorites. In the years to come, I can see myself persuing an interdisciplinary approach (from modelling to noble gas analysis and field work) to investigate asteroid-meteorite connections, and the interaction of the Earth with the rest of the universe throughout its history.