UA Science
Marcia and George Rieke say the James Webb Space Telescope is the result of 50 years of science, engineering and technology advances, providing access to astronomical sources that were completely out of reach until now. Chris Richards/University of Arizona

NASA honors UArizona Regents Professors, alumna for contributions to space exploration and astronomy

University of Arizona Regents Professors Marcia and George Rieke have each been recognized with NASA Distinguished Public Service Medals for their contributions to the field of astronomy and their key roles in the development of cutting-edge instruments for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST.

The medals, awarded this month, are the highest distinction the agency bestows upon nongovernmental personnel.

In addition to the Riekes, UArizona alumna Jane Rigby, who serves as the operations project scientist for JWST, was honored with the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for her scientific contributions and leadership. Rigby, who graduated with a doctorate in astronomy from UArizona in 2006, has played a pivotal role in the successful transition of JWST from commissioning to routine science observations. Her work at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has been crucial to ensuring the seamless operation of the space observatory.

Marcia Rieke – as the principal investigator who led the development of JWST's Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam – has demonstrated unparalleled dedication and leadership, according to her nomination...

Nearby planetary system seen in breathtaking detail

A team led by University of Arizona astronomers used NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to image the warm dust around a nearby young star, Fomalhaut, to study the first asteroid belt ever seen outside of our solar system in infrared light. The image shows nested concentric rings of dust, some of which had never been seen before. These belts most likely are carved by the gravitational forces produced by embedded, unseen planets.
To the astronomers' surprise, the dusty structures are much more complex than the asteroid and Kuiper dust belts of our solar system. There are three nested belts extending out to 14 billion miles, or 23 billion kilometers, from the star; that's 150 times the...

For the public
For Public

Public events include our Monday Night Lecture Series, world-reknowned Astronomy Camp and Mt Lemmon Sky Center.

For Students

A good place to start if you want to become an undergrad major or grad student, or need to find our schedule of classes.


For Scientists
For Scientists

Find telescopes and instruments, telescope time applications, staff and mountain contacts, and faculty and staff scientific interests.