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The Exolith Lab is a not for profit extension of CLASS, dedicated to regolith simulant production and applied research. Simulant costs cover materials, facilities, and labor. We also maintain the Planetary Simulant Database as a resource for the community, with information on historic and current planetary simulants.
Prof. Dan Britt – Founder
Daniel Britt Dr. Daniel Britt is a Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences at the Department of Physics, University of Central Florida. He was educated at the University of Washington and Brown University, receiving a Ph.D. from Brown in 1991. He has had a varied career including service in the US Air Force as an ICBM missile launch officer and an economist for Boeing before going into planetary sciences. He has served on the science teams of two NASA missions, Mars Pathfinder and Deep Space 1. He was the project manager for the camera on Mars Pathfinder and has built hardware for all the NASA Mars landers. He currently does research on the physical properties and mineralogy of asteroids, comets, the Moon, and Mars under several NASA grants and is the director of t he Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science (CLASS), a node of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). He has served as the Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society and the Planetar y Geology Division of the Geological Society of America. Honors include 6 NASA Achievement Awards, election as a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society, and an asteroid named after him; 4395 DanBritt
Mike Conroy – Project Manager
Mike Conroy Mike Conroy leads the Florida Space Instit ute (FSI) Student Design Projects, integrating mentors and scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with FSI’s Colleges and Universities. This includes collaboration to identify project needs, development of project content and execution of projects benefit the Students, Universities and NASA. Mike also serves as the Technical Chair of the international Simulation Exploration Experience (SEE), a STEM/STEAM initiative integrating students, industry, professional associations and faculty for an annual, cooperative, Space Exploration Modeling and Simulation Challenge with bases on both the Moon and Mars. Mike has over 35 years of Space System Design, Development, Maintenance and Operations experience with NASA Projects, Program s and Initiatives and held positions ranging from System Engineer to Operations Manager to Chief to Program Representative across domains including Flight Systems, Ground Systems, Information Technology and Simulation. Roles varied from hands on engineeri ng and integration to team leadership to program management and leadership of multi - center (NASA) teams. Mike led the modeling and simulation organization as a part of the Program System Engineering and Integration (SE&I) for the NASA Constellation Progra m. Also significant is the partnership with the State of Florida to capture and implement Orion Spacecraft assembly and integration for the State. He received numerous honors and awards include NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal. Mike is also a Porsche Club trained High Performance Driver Education Instructor, coaching drivers on vehicle dynamics and high speed driving on closed courses.
Anna Metke – Director of Operations
Anna Metke Anna Metke is a Lab Manager at the Exolith Lab where she facilitates the development of simulated space resources. She focuses on building her career to aid the development of a Sustainable Space Economy. Anna’s background includes 9 years of experience working in business management and 4 years of experience in scientific research. Anna has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and continues her education in the physical sciences. She began her j ourney specializing in space resources with Deep Space Industries where she aided in simulant production and business development. Anna joined the Exolith Lab team when Deep Space Industries incorporated into UCF. With a passion for science as well as art, she has spent several years participating in science organizations and STEAM outreach programs to encourage young enthusiasts. She also runs a small business where she shares her enthusiasm for space, art, and nature. When she is not at the lab, Anna enjo ys travel, hiking, and cooking.
Dr. Zoe Landsman - Chief Scientist
Zoe Landsman Dr. Zoe Landsman holds both a B.S. in Physics and a PhD in Physics with a Planet ary Science specialization, from the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on characterizing the surfaces of airless bodies using observational and laboratory techniques and thermal modeling. She currently works as a research scientist at the Florida Space Institute and serves as Chief S cientist for Exolith Lab. Working at Exolith appealed to her because it combines her scientific interest in the surfaces of rocky planetary bodies with the excitement of space exploration. Fun fact, in her free time she is a powerlifter!
Jared Long-Fox - Geotechnical Specialist
ared Long - Fox holds a B.S. in Geology (minor in Mathematics) and an M.S. degree in Geophysics from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He currently works as a Geotechnical Specialist at the Exolit h Lab. The Exolith Lab appeals to Jared because the work allows him to combine all of his favorite things - design of experiments, experimental hardware design, data collection, and data analysis. An added bonus - it's all applied to something that he has always considered mystifying and fascinating - space!
Makayla Peppin - Geotechnical Research Associate
Makayla Peppin Makayla Peppin is a Geotechnical Research Associate at Exolith Lab. She has been at Exolith Lab since it opened in 2018 and has b een a part of CLASS (Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science) since 2017. She will be graduating with her B achelor’s in Physics from the University of Central Florida in December 2020. Her work at Exolith focuses on geotechnical property testing and data - analysis for each of the stimulants. After she graduates, Makayla hopes to start her graduate career studying the Martian surfa ce and to contribute to the human exploration of space, and the understanding of our solar system. When she is not working, Makayla enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and scuba diving.
Parks Easter – Lab Manager
Parks Easter is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering with a focus on Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Central Florida. Space appealed to him at a young age, from watching the space shuttle launch from his back yard in Jacksonville to attending Space Camp in Huntsville. In his free time he enjoys travelling, collecting vinyl, and reading. He is currently the Vice president of the UCF Astronomy society and is very involved within the UCF Planetary Sciences Department. In the future he hopes to help in building humanity’s future in space through In Situ Resource Utilization and new lunar infrastructure technology.
Margarita Bassil – Project Support Specialist
Margarita Bassil is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Central Florida. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, participating in STEM outreach, and 3D printing. Outside of being an Exolith Lab Simulant Technician, she's supported Lockheed Martin as a systems and structural analysis intern. She’s currently a pathways intern for NASA’s Safety and Mission Assurance office for the Commercial Crew Program. After seeing Exolith Lab’s contribution to space colonization and exploration, she was eager to be a part of Exolith’s space expedition.
Alex Perruci – Chief Engineer
Alexander Perruci Alexander Perruci is an undergraduate pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida. In his career, he aims to contribute to space exploration by engineering spaceflight hardware. Alexander joined Exolith Lab in May 2019 to su pport the ongoing research of our solar system.
Jillian Gloria – External Relations Manager
Jillian is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida. Her dream is to one day walk on Mars, but she knows there are countless goals she must achieve before she is spaceflight ready! In addition to her position at Exolith, Jillian serves as the Marketing Director for an Astronomy Podcast, Walkabout The Galaxy, and conducts NASA SSERVI funded research investigating the effects of Solar Radiation in regards to water evolution processes at the surface of airless bodies in space (e.g. Moon, Mars, near-Earth Asteroids). “Exolith appealed to me as that ‘next-step’ in regolith research. I wanted to expand my knowledge of surface mineralogy from the nano-scale acquired in my undergraduate research position, to the surface scale applications implemented at Exolith.” Her past internships have included working in the Private Space Industry with a focus on low-cost lunar robotic technologies, and analyzing technical risks for new and existing Gas Turbine technologies at Siemens Energy. She has proven to be an advocate for STEM & Space Exploration through both local endeavors with NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex, Barnes & Noble, Women In Defense, Orange County Public Schools, and the Central Florida STEM Education Council; as well as through global platforms via partnerships with LinkedIn, Fox's Xploration Outerspace TV show, and the Discovery Channel Canada. She strongly believes that by sharing her own love and excitement for space, she can inspire others to dream big!
Christian Sipe – Assistant Engineer
Christian Sipe is a second year Aerospace Engineering major with a minor in Computer Science at the University of Central Florida. His hobbies include messing around with electronics and going over to the Cape to watch rocket launches! In the future, he hopes to design and build sustainable space stations on the Lunar surface as well as in orbit. Exolith appealed to Sipe because in order to build these stations, there has to be ISRU (in-Situ Resource Utilization) on the Lunar surface.
Lucas Weber – Simulant Tech Lead
Lucas Weber is pursuing a degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida with hopes of going to graduate school afterwards. He enjoys spending his time working on projects, going to rocket launches, and watching the future of spaceflight become reality. He loves working at Exolith where he can work on undergraduate research and finally join the space industry while it enters a new space race. In the future, Lucas hopes to work in payload integration or In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) and be a part of the industry that sends the first humans to mars and builds a permanent colony on the moon.
Joshua Conway – Simulant Tech
Joshua is an undergraduate pursuing a degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida. He dreams to one day work for NASA’s Mission Control and to help inspire new generations of engineers and scientists. Previously he worked as a Research Assistant at the World’s largest and most powerful magnet laboratory (National High Magnetic Field Laboratory) where he presented research to the National Science Foundation. Joshua has also completed a Project Management internship at Siemens Energy and has given public speeches for Toastmasters International. “Exolith called to me because it was a chance to have my first ‘space-industry’ job! I was ecstatic when I got hired on, knowing that I get to contribute to the field of space exploration is both a fascinating and fulfilling undertaking.” Joshua is also an active member of multiple student organizations on campus including SEDS (Students for Exploration and Development of Space) and NAR (National Association of Rocketry) where he is currently getting his L1 High-Power Rocketry Certification. In his free time, he enjoys studying Russian, 3D printing, and being physically active.
Ana-Paula Dovali – Simulant Tech
Ana-Paula Dovali is an undergraduate researcher studying Molecular Microbiology and Cell Science with a focus on Astrobiology at the University of Central Florida. When not working at the lab, Ana-Paula plays for the UCF Women’s Rugby team, walking her dogs, and watching movies. Ana-Paula also actively participates in Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) as a project lead for RASC-AL, an internal affairs officer, and mentor for new members. As she progresses in her career, she hopes to focus her research on terraforming using microorganisms for Mars and study extraterrestrial life. Here at Exolith, Ana Paula loves working with all kinds of regolith and studying their chemical properties. At the lab, she loves working with her coworkers and bringing a smile to their faces. She hopes to implement her experience here into her future projects.
John Hatchitt – Industrial Enginee
John Hatchitt is a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering. He began his career inspace working with the Florida Space Institute where he ran experiments, designed new apparatuses for experiments and fabricated them. He joined Exolith in fall of 2020 and hopes to in the future work with ISRU (In-situ Resource Utilization) and other technologies to further human space exploration.
Janelisse Morales – Undergraduate Research Assistan
Janelisse Morales Gonzalez is a senior in her final semester of Aerospace Engineering at University of Central Florida with hopes of going to graduate school in Mechanical Engineering afterwards. Her previous work experience includes interning at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as a Systems Development Engineer, and working with Dr. Kevin Cannon on creating an ISRU plant to convert Moon dust into rocket propellant. She currently works as an Undergraduate Researcher under Jared Long-Fox at the UCF’s CLASS (Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science) Lab. In the future she hopes to focus her work and research on aerothermodynamics and propulsion systems on spacecraft. In her free time, she loves to draw and explore the outdoors!
Britt, D. T., K. M. Cannon, K. Donaldson Hanna, J. Hogancamp, O. Poch, P. Beck, D. Martin, J. Escrig, L. Bonal, and P. T. Metzger (2019), Simulated asteroid materials based on carbonaceous chondrite mineralogies. MAPS, in press
Metzger, P. T., D. T. Britt, S. Covey, C. Schultz, K. M. Cannon, K. D. Grossman, J. G. Mantovani, and R. P. Mueller (2019), Measuring the fidelity of asteroid regolith and cobble simulants. Icarus, 321, 632-646.
Cannon, K. M., D. T. Britt, T. M. Smith, R. F. Fritsche, and D. Batcheldor (2019), Mars Global Simulant MGS-1: A Rocknest-based Open Standard for Basaltic Martian Regolith Simulants. Icarus, 317, 470-478.