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Susan M Lederer

Lead Scientist Optical Measurements, Orbital Debris Program Office

Area of Research/Engineering: Comets and Asteroids, Orbital Debris

Contact Information

Phone: 281.483.5165
Fax: 281-483-1573

ARES Researcher Dr. Sue Lederer


DegreeArea of StudySchoolYear
Ph.D.AstronomyUniversity of Florida
M.S.AstronomyNew Mexico State University
B.S.Physics and MathematicsUniversity of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Research/Engineering Interests

Dr. Lederer is the Optical Measurements Lead Scientist in the Orbital Debris Program Office (ODPO) at JSC. Optical measurements include ground-based telescopic measurements as well as laboratory measurements that are designed to understand the orbital debris environment in Geosynchronous (GEO) orbit and Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Photometric and spectroscopic measurements and analysis of debris found in GEO orbits are designed to characterize the size, composition, orbits, and population in GEO. Observations are obtained with the 0.6m MODeST (the Michigan Orbital Debris Survey Telescope), the SMARTS 0.9m, and the 4m Mayall telescopes (all at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory (CTIO)), and both 6.5m Magellan telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory [all in Chile], as well as the 3.8m UKIRT infrared telescope in Hawaii. Dr. Lederer is also the PI for the Meter-Class Autonomous Telescope (MCAT) project at Ascension Island. This will be a dedicated 1.3m optical telescope designed to probe GEO, GTO (Geo-Transfer Orbits) and LEO (Low Earth Orbit) environments through optical photometry.

Dr. Lederer leads research in planetary science with emphasis on comet and asteroid investigations. Projects include: (1) Investigations of effects caused by collisions between comets. The Experimental Impact Laboratory at NASA JSC is used to impact minerals found in comets/asteroids to determine effects due to collisions as seen in infrared spectra and Transmission Electron Microscope imaging for comparison with telescopic data; (2) Investigations of the rotational periods of Trojan asteroids to gain insight into their histories, using telescopes at CTIO and Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.

Prior to her tenure at Johnson Space Center, Dr. Lederer was an Associate Professor of Physics at California State University SB, faculty of the 2010 Vatican Observatory Summer School in Italy, and a National Research Council Post-doctoral Fellow with Dr. Faith Vilas and the Planetary Astronomy Group at NASA Johnson Space Center. Her research focus was on small bodies during this time, including involvement in the Japanese Hayabusa Spacecraft Mission to Asteroid 25143 Itokawa, the Deep Impact Spacecraft mission to Comet 9P/Tempel 1, and the Spitzer Space Telescope, and plenty of ground-based observing.

Selected Publications

S.M. Lederer, E.A. Jensen, D.H. Wooden, S.S. Lindsay, D.C. Smith, K. Nakamura-Messenger, L.P. Keller, F. Cardenas, M.J. Cintala, and R. Montanes (2014). "Shock Effects on Cometary-Dust Simulants.” In: NASA JSC Biennial R&TD Report.

Lederer, S. M., E.G. Stansbery, H.M. Cowardin, P. Hickson, L.F. Pace, K.J. Abercromby, P.W. Kervin, and R.J. Allis (2013). “The NASA Metre Class Autonomous Telescope: Ascension Island.” AMOS Technical Conference Proceedings, Maui, Hawaii Sept, 2013.

Jensen, E.A., S.M. Lederer, C. Strojia, D.C. Smith, D.H. Wooden, L.P. Keller, M.J. Cintala, and M.E. Zolensky (2013). “Micrometeorite Impact Effects on Comets and Asteroids: Peak Pressure versus Spectral Variation.” Bull. Am. Astron. Soc., 45, 413.29.

Lederer, S. M., E. A. Jensen, D. H. Wooden, S. S. Lindsay, K. Nakamura-Messenger, D. C. Smith, L. P. Keller, M. J. Cintala, M. E. Zolensky (2012). “Collisional Histories of Comets and Trojan Asteroids: Diopside, Magnesite, and Fayalite Impact Studies.” Bull. Am. Astron. Soc., 44, 202.08.

Lederer, S. M., P. Seitzer, H. M. Cowardin, K. J. Abercromby, E. S. Barker, and A. Burkhardt (2012). “Characterizing Orbital Debris and Spacecrafts through a Multi-Analytical Approach.” AMOS Technical Conference Proceedings, Maui, Hawaii Sept, 2012.

Lederer, S. M., E. A. Jensen, D. H. Wooden, S. S. Lindsay, D. C. Smith, M. J. Cintala, K. Nakamura-Messenger, and L. P. Keller (2012). “Collisional Histories of Comets and Trojan Asteroids: Insights from Forsterite and Enstatite Impact Studies." Asteroids, Comets, Meteors, May 16-20, 2012.

French, L.M., R.D. Stephens, S.M. Lederer, D.R. Coley, and D.A. Rohl (2011). “Preliminary Results from a Study of Trojan Asteroids.” Minor Planet Bulletin (ISSN 1052-8091) 38, No. 2, p. 116-120.

Lederer S.M., H. Campins, and D.J. Osip (2009). “Chemical and physical properties of gas jets in comets: I. Monte Carlo model of an inner cometary coma.” Icarus, 199, 477-483.

Lederer S. M., H. Campins, and D.J. Osip (2009). “Chemical and physical properties of gas jets in comets: II. Modeling OH, CN and C2 jets in Comet C/1995 01 (Hale-Bopp) one month after perihelion.” Icarus, 199, 484-504.

Lederer, S. M., F. Vilas, J.E. Thomas-Osip, D.L. Domingue, D.J. Osip, K.Jarvis and S.L. Leeds (2008). “The 2004 Las Campanas/Lowell Observatory Campaign II. Surface Properties of Hayabusa target asteroid 25143 Itokawa Inferred From Hapke Modeling.” Earth, Planets and Space, 60, 49-59.