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Naomi Murdoch

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I am a researcher at ISAE-SUPAERO and part of the Space Systems for Planetary Applications (SSPA) team. I have a first class MPhys degree in Astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh (2007) and a PhD in Physics and Planetary Sciences from the Open University and the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis/Côte d’Azur Observatory (2012).

My research interests are linked to understanding the physical properties and geophysical evolution of asteroids and terrestrial planets. I also study how space instrumentation interacts with the surface environment of planetary bodies in order to prepare inter-planetary space missions and to allow the most precise interpretation of the data possible.


July 18 2022

Just out - our new paper in GRL analysing the Martian atmospheric turbulence in which we show that the nocturnal near-surface environment of Mars can be more turbulent than expected and that turbulence is affected by the presence of dust storms and gravity waves.

July 15 2022

Our article describing the exciting ESA Hera mission, due for launch in 2024 has just been published in The Planetary Science Journal. See the Open Access paper here.

Image credit : ESA

July 7 2022

Asteroid Bennu Reveals its Surface is Like a Plastic Ball Pit

"The spacecraft would have sunk into Bennu had it not fired its thrusters to back away immediately after it grabbed dust and rock from the asteroid’s surface.

It turns out that the particles making up Bennu’s exterior are so loosely packed and lightly bound to each other that if a person were to step onto Bennu they would feel very little resistance, as if stepping into a pit of plastic balls that are popular play areas for kids."

Read more about this great paper by Kevin Walsh and coauthors in the NASA press release here.

July 4 2022
Did you miss our Asteroid Day 2022 broadcast ? Don’t worry, you can watch it again here. We start talking about asteroid characterisation about 2h30 into the broadcast.

June 30 2022
Happy Asteroid Day everyone.
Don’t forget to tune in to our LIVE broadcast from Luxembourg.

June 29 2022
Join us tomorrow, June 30 2022 for Asteroid Day LIVE 2022 !.

May 10 2022

InSight Records Monster Quake on Mars !

Estimated to be magnitude 5, the quake is the biggest ever detected on another planet !!

See more in the NASA press release.

April 28 2022
Congratulations to Dr Cecily Sunday (my first PhD student !) on successfully defending her fantastic thesis on “Landing, sinking, and rolling on small body surfaces”.

April 19 2022

New paper just out investigating magnetic fields in Martian convective vortices. We find that close dusty vortices could cause magnetic field signals ! See all the details here.

April 6 2022

A new podcast that I recorded with Campus in Space about the Hera mission has just been released (in french). Listen here.

April 1 2022

Hot off the press !
Our paper on the First Sounds on Mars, published today in Nature !

The press release can be found here.

Find out more about these exciting results :

March 29 2022
Exciting results from our Martian microphone are going to be published in the next few days ! Here is SSPA team member Alex Stott preparing a video talking about the amazing science we can do with our little microphone.

February 10 2022
An excellent new paper by my PhD student Cecily Sunday just out demonstrating how to correctly take into account the low gravity environment when studying slow interactions. Check it out here.

January 13 2022

The International Workshop devoted to the Hera mission will take place in person in Nice on May 30-June 3, 2022, at the Hôtel Saint-Paul.

24 Nov. 2021
DART launch will be at 7:21am (UTC+1)
The launch can be followed online on the NASA live stream.
DART will impact asteroid Dimorphos between 26 Sept. and 1 Oct. 2022.

ESA’s HERA mission, will be launched in 2024, will investigate the aftermath of the DART impact.

October 9 2021

Si vous souhaitez avoir les dernières nouvelles des missions InSight et Perseverance voici une presentation de la Journée Portes Ouvertes à l’ISAE.

August 26 2021

I had the pleasure to discuss our Martian microphone with Florence Porcel. Check out the video here.

July 24 2021

Thanks to InSight we now know the Martian internam structure. A series of three important papers were published in Science this week :

July 5 2021

What’s inside an asteroid ? Find out from our Asteroid day panel discussion. Replay available here.

June 11 2021
We’re live on Twitch this lunchtime : "SuperCam : vive le vent martien !"
Replay available here.

May 11 2021

I have to pleasure to have been invited to give a lecture about the InSight mission and results at the Institute of Physics this evening. It’s online, everyone is welcome ! Details here.

May 6 2021

Looking forward to speaking about Perseverance at an Agile Rabbit event this evening.

April 22 2021

What are the challenges of landing on an asteroid ?
Find out here.

April 16 2021

When NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touched down on Bennu back in October to collect a sample, footage showed that it seemed to pass through the asteroid, not land on it. In this Horizon video I talk about what happened during this amazing sampling event.

March 10, 2021

We are about to release the first ever audio recordings of Sounds on Mars using our SuperCam microphone !

Follow our press conference here (French first then English).
And listen to the sounds for yourself here.

February 18, 2021

Mars 2020 Perseverance has landed safely on Mars !
Check out the amazing footage of the Rover’s Descent and Touchdown on Mars.

December 6, 2020
Samples from the C-type asteroid 162173 Ryugu have been succesfully returned to Earth by Hayabusa2 !

October 29, 2020

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Successfully Stows Sample of Asteroid Bennu

October 26, 2020

NASA Science Live : Our First Attempt to Sample Asteroid Bennu

July 30, 2020

Mars 2020 Perseverance is safely on its way to Mars !

June 30, 2020

Ever wondered what it would be like to be in the surface of an asteroid ?
Find out here.

June 30, 2020

2020 ESA Asteroid Day Programme – French.

« A lively, animated discussion hosted by Bruce Benamran, one of France’s most-watched science youtubers. The programme will include discussions on asteroids, planetary defence missions and future opportunities in asteroid mining with six experts. Ian Carnelli (ESA), Patrick Michel (CNRS), Aurélie Moussi (CNES – the French Space Agency), Naomi Murdoch (ISAE-Supaero), Marc Serres (Luxembourg Space Agency) and ESA astronaut Léopold Éyharts will take part in a fascinating debate, shedding light on how asteroids first formed, presenting recent scientific findings and the challenges that still lie ahead. »

8 November 2018

Exciting times for asteroid space missions as Hayabusa-2 prepares for the 1st sampling attempt of Ryugu, and Bennu comes into view for OSIRIS-Rex.

11 October 2018

Presenting InSight and the Mars Microphone at the IRT Forum in Toulouse.

3 October 2018

And now MASCOT has safely landed on Ryugu too !! Here’s the first picture of asteroid Ryugu taken by mascot during the asteroid landing. You can see the shadow of the asteroid lander in the top right of the image ! (Image : Mascot / DLR / cnes)

27 September 2018

Click here to see an incredible movie taken on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu by one of the first ever asteroid landers (MINERVA-II1) !! So many boulders !

26 September 2018

On the 21st of September JAXA successfully put two small rovers (MINERVA-II1) onto the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. These rovers, part of the Hayabusa-2 mission, are the first surface packages to ever land on an asteroid ! Well done JAXA !! Here is a photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 22 at around 11:44 JST. It was taken on Ryugu’s surface during a hop. The left-half is the surface of Ryugu, while the white region on the right is due to sunlight (JAXA/Hayabusa2 Project).

5 August 2018

The PIONEERS (Planetary Instruments based on Optical technologies for an iNnovative European Exploration using Rotational Seismology) project, led by members of the SSPA team here at ISAE-SUPAERO, has been funded by the European Commision as part of the H2020 call (H2020-SPACE-20-2018) ! The team will develop an innovative optical seismometer that provides 6 degrees of freedom measurements (3 translational and 3 rotational). The instrument will be built specifically for planetary science missions, and a reduced scale version of the instrument specifically dedicated to the exploration of small bodies will also be developped. The PIONEERS project involves a consortium of research laboratories (ISAE-SUPAERO, ETHZ, IPGP, ORB, LMU) and an industrial partner (iXblue).

25 June 2018

Our Europlanet proposal to return to the Aarhus Mars wind tunnel to perform further experiments with our Mars 2020 Microphone has been funded ! We’ll be heading back up to Denmark for a week of testing in 2019.

May 2018

The InSight mission to Mars launched successfully on Saturday 5th May 2018. Watch a video of the launch here. The landing on Mars is planned for 26th November 2018 !

April 2018

Interested to hear more about some of our asteroid-related research activites ? Have a listen to the interview I recorded for the Western University (Canada) Western Worlds podcast (thanks Jon Kissi !). The podcast can be downloaded here.

24 November 2017

We have another internship position open for 2018, this time in collaboration with the ’Département Aérodynamique Energétique et Propulsion’ at ISAE-SUPAERO and in relation to the Mars Microphone. The subject is studying the flow regimes in the wake of the Mars 2020 SuperCam instrument. Candidates should by in the final year of a Master of Sciences/Engineering degree and have competencies in fluid dynamics. Full details can be found here.

10 November 2017

Interested in coming to do a 5-6 month internship in our team studying the feasibility and performance of a wheel on the surface of a small body ? Candidates should by in the final year of an Engineering or Master of Sciences/Engineering degree. There is also the possibility to continue on to a PhD at the end of the internship. Full details can be found here.

16 October 2017

Do you want to send your name to Mars with the InSight mission ? If so, you can sign up and get your boarding card here : Send your name to Mars.
Last Day to Submit : November 1, 2017 (11:59 p.m. ET)

16 October 2017

To help us better understand spacecraft - planetary surface interactions, last week we had a great meeting at ISAE-SUPAERO focussed on slow penetration into granular materials in low gravity. Thanks to everyone for coming !

3 October 2017

The SSPA stand and public presentations in the center of Toulouse as part of the European Researchers’ Night on Friday 29th September 2017 were a huge success !

25 September 2017

We’re just back from a great EPSC conference in Riga where Gautier Nguyen (a Masters student working with me) and I presented papers about the Mars Microphone, the seismic pressure noise on Mars for the InSight mission, our new drop tower experiment results and also about asteroid seismology.

30 July 2017

The SEIS flight model has been delivered to Lockheed Martin in Denver ! Integration of the instrument into the InSight spacecraft will begin in August.

12 July 2017

Our 6-hour Asteroid Day live broadcast was a huge success with several hundred thousand viewers around the world. If you missed it, you can see the different panel discussions on the asteroid day website here.

10 July 2017

We’re just back from a great week in Aarhus where we were testing the SuperCam laser and Mars Microphone system in a representative Mars environment. Thank you Europlanet for funding this important test campaign !

14 June 2017

Tune in on June 30th for our LIVE Asteroid Day broadcast ! This will be the first-ever 24-hour live broadcast about space, and specifically asteroids.


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