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A native of Norristown, Pa., and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania has played a key role in a major NASA achievement.
Maria T. Zuber, Ph.D., was the Deputy Principal Investigator on NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) project, which is part of the space agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) project.
The LRO helped NASA make history recently when the space agency successfully sent data to it using a laser at its Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, Md., approximately 240,000 miles away. This experiment marked the first time that a laser sent data that far into space. NASA scientists believe that lasers may support or replace the use of radio waves for communication to satellites in the future.
The data sent – an image Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa – represented a celestial partnership of science and art. Leonardo is the namesake of the Da Vinci Science Center
Dr. Zuber earned a bachelor’s degree in Astronomy and Geology from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1980. She earned a doctorate in Geophysics from Brown University in Providence, R.I. Zuber has been a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) since 1995 and became its Vice President for Research on Jan. 16, 2013.