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Dante Lauretta (born 1970) is a Professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He is currently serving as the Principal investigator on NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission.
He received a B.S. in physics and mathematics and a B.A. in Oriental Studies with focus in Japanese from the University of Arizona in 1993 and a Ph.D. in Earth and planetary sciences from Washington University in St. Louis in 1997. He was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Geological Sciences at Arizona State University from 1997 through 1999. He was an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University from 1999 through 2001. He was hired on to the faculty at the University of Arizona in 2001.
His research interests focus on the chemistry and mineralogy of asteroids and comets as determined by in situ laboratory analyses and spacecraft observations. This work is important for constraining the chemistry of the solar nebula, understanding the origin of complex organic molecules in the early Solar System, and constraining the initial chemical inventories of the terrestrial planets. He is an expert in the analysis of extraterrestrial materials. In particular, he uses inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron microprobe analysis (EPMA), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) to study meteorites, lunar samples, and particles returned by the Stardust mission. Lauretta is known for his experimental work on the formation of iron-bearing sulfides in the solar nebula. He also worked on the cosmochemical behavior of various elements, such as mercury, boron and beryllium in meteorites. Asteroid 5819 Lauretta was named in his honor. He is currently serving as the Principal investigator on NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission to return 60 g of regolith from carbonaceous asteroid 101955 Bennu in 2023.
He was selected as a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in 2008.
He is the coauthor (with M. Katherine Crombie (his wife), Chris Gholson, and Erik Melchiorre) of 'Rich Hill: The History of Arizona's Most Amazing Gold District'.
He is the coauthor (with Marvin Killgore) of A Color Atlas of Meteorites in Thin Section (2005).
Lauretta is the co-editor (with Daniel Apai) of the "Protoplanetary Dust" volume (2010) in the Cambridge University Press Planetary Science Series.
- Dante Lauretta home page at Lunar and Planetary Lab, University of Arizona
- Dante Lauretta's blog
- 7 Questions for Dante Lauretta, Leader of UA's Biggest Space Mission, 2014