Stony Brook University
An Odyssey Into Geology
By Jasmine Blennau
Space has always fascinated Deanne Rogers. As a child growing up in South Carolina, she read the children’s science magazine Odyssey and hung mobiles of the planets from her bedroom ceiling. But it wasn’t until college that it occured to her that she could have a career involving space.
As an English major at the College of Charleston, Rogers took an introductory geology course and learned that there were geologists in the space program. She was hooked.
“I love the size and magnitude of geology,” the research scientist said. “The cumulative effects of these day-to-day processes and their effects on us is remarkable, like how the tectonic plates moving can cause an earthquake.”
She pursued geology further at Arizona State University, where she received masters and doctorate degrees. Today she is an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Stony Brook University and a co-investigator for NASA’s RIS4E project.
Her specialty is planetary geology and remote sensing. She determines the mineralogy of rocks and studies how the rocks formed. She has a special interest in understanding the environmental conditions in which minerals on Mars have formed.
“I love how things that seem magical are really explained by physics,” Rogers said.
She brings her expertise in laboratory spectroscopy outdoors with her modified infrared camera. Rogers was the lead on the development of the camera’s special filters and the procedures for using the camera in the field for spectral imaging.
The Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera with these filters can help identify the differences in mineralogy of rocks on site so that a variety of samples can be obtained. Rogers’ design of five custom filters have enabled this standard thermal imaging camera to view a larger spectrum of wavelengths, thus gathering more valuable information.
Her previous research with the Hawaii field leader Jake Bleacher of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center led to her role in the RIS4E project. On this trip she was the team lead for TIR, thermal infrared, assisted by two of her graduate students, Gen Ito and Marcie Yant.
“I try to include students whenever I can,” Rogers said.
Rogers and her husband, Timothy Glotch, the principal investigator of the RIS4E project, met in graduate school, and today you can find them in their labs or with their two young children talking science over dinner.