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Candace Gray

NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow
Entered: 2010
Office: 220 Astronomy
Phone: (575)646-8180
Fax: (575)646-1602
E-mail: candaceg
(append "@nmsu.edu")
M.S.University of Texas, Austin,2008
B.S. University of Texas, El Paso, 2006


I received my B.S. degree in physics in 2006 from the University of Texas, El Paso, and completed a M.S. degree in astronomy at the University of Texas, Austin, in 2008.

I have worked with Edward Robinson at UT Austin on interacting binary stars, reducing CCD photometry data and generating light curves, and also conducting telescope observations at McDonald Observatory. Our work on the UW Coronaw Borealis system was published in ApJ in 2008.

I also worked with Anita Cochran on comet spectroscopy. I analyzed more than 25 years of optical spectroscopy from the McDonald Observatory for roughly 100 hundred comets, studying their chemical compositions to distinguish between Oort Cloud and Kuiper belt objects. I built on evidence for depletion of carbon chain molecules in Jupiter Family comets, and identified a new class of comets which are depleted in C3 but not in C2. This work formed the body of my M.S. thesis.

I worked for several years with Paul Mason (UTEP), studying magnetic cataclysmic variables stars. We used the Very Large Array (VLA) to measure their radio emission, and my senior undergraduate thesis was based on our results.

I also collaborated with Niesjca Turner while at UTEP, in the field of astronomy education. I taught laboratory exercises for undergraduates using a three-dimensional visualization system called GeoWall, designed to illustrate lunar phases. Students were surveyed pre- and post-usage, and we presented the results at several American Geophysical Union conferences. My interests in teaching developed further while in Austin, where I taught classes ranging from elementary to high school levels as a part of the UTeach program which emphisized project-based instruction. I designed, taught, and lead a team of other UTeach student in a 3 week high-school project where we taught students how to design and build their own telescopes. I won the award for best new project for my design of teaching physics by building a pinball machine.

I began my graduate studies at NMSU in August 2010, as a member of the planetary science group. I study the effects solar flares have on the nightglow of Venus with my advisor Nancy Chanover and collaborator Tom Slanger. In particular, I study the oxygen green line at 5577.3 A which is known to be a highly variable feature. It was first detected in 1999 (Slanger et. al 2001) and through 2004 and has since disappeared. We observe Venus as a target of opportunity on Apache Point's 3.5m Astrophysical Consortium Telescope after high energy flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are emitted from the Sun towards Venus. In 2012, we observe an X-class flare and a large CME impact Venus and found bright oxygen green line emission that had not been seen to that strength since its initial discovery in 1999. I recently presented these finding at the Comparative Climatology of Terrestrial Planets in Boulder, CO, the Divsion of Planetary Science (DPS) meeting in Reno, NV, and presented a talk at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco, CA. We are currently writing our results as an Icarus note. Below is an image of a waxing crescent moon sitting humbly next to Venus, taken in Las Cruces, NM.

In addition to researching the Venusian atmosphere, I also enjoy creating space art style painting. Two examples of my work are shown below. Inside the ladybug are the Horsehead, Eagle, and Snowball Nebula, M100, Venus, the north star, comet Hale-Bopp, the Sun with Venus transiting. This painting was made for a friend and true lady of astronomy. The painting on the right is of AR UMa, the highest known magnetic field polar, a type of interacting binary star system.


NASA Earth and Space Science (NESSF) Award, 2012

New Mexico State University College of Arts and Science Travel Grant, 2012

Third place in New Mexico State University's 3 Minute Thesis Competition, 2012

New Mexico State University Peagasus Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2011

Division of Planetary Science Hartmann Travel Grand, 2011

UT Austin, UTeach Lucas Award for best Project-Based Instruction project "The Physics of Pinball", 2010

UT Austin Graduate Enrichment Fellowship, 2006 - 2007

Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar, 2004 - 2006

Presidentail Scholarship, University of Texas at El Paso, 2001 - 2005


15 min talk, AGU, San Francisco, CA, Dec 2012

LASP Colloquium, Boulder, CO, Nov 2012

Poster presentation, Division of Planetary Science (DPS), Reno, NV, Oct 2012

Poster presentation, Comparative Climatology of Terrestrial Planets, Boulder, CO, June 2012

Poster Presentation, Division of Planetary Science (DPS), Nantes, France, Oct 2011


Thirty Years of Cometary Spectroscopy from McDonald Observatory.
Anita L. Cochran, Edwin S. Barker, Candace L. Gray, 2012, Icarus, 218, 144-168.

Recent Observations of Venus' OI and O2 Emission from Apache Point Observatory
Candace L. Gray, Nancy J. Chanover, Tom G. Slanger.

The Orbital Period and Time-variable Asymmetric Accretion Disk in the X-Ray Binary MS 1603.6+2600 (=UW Coronae Borealis)
Paul A. Mason, Edward L. Robinson, Candace L. Gray, & Robert I. Hynes 2008, ApJ, 685, 428-435

A Chemical Survey of 73 Comets Conducted at McDonald Observatory
Candace L. Gray & A. L. Cochran 2008, BAAS, 40, 411

AR Ursae Majoris Discovered to Be a Persistent Radio Polar: Results from a VLA Survey of Magnetic Cataclysmic Variables
Paul A. Mason & Candace L. Gray 2007, ApJ, 660, 662-668

CCD Photometry of UW Coronae Borealis
Paul A. Mason, Edward L. Robinson, & Candace L. Gray 2006, BAAS, 38, 84

AR Ursae Majoris: A New Persistent Radio Emitter
C. L. Gray & P. A. Mason 2005, BAAS, 37, 496

An Investigation of Radio Emission in Magnetic Cataclysmic Variables
P. A. Mason & C. Gray 2004, ASPC, 315, 237

Effectiveness of GeoWall Visualization Technology for Conceptualization of the Sun-Earth-Moon System
N. E. Turner, C. Gray, & E. J. Mitchell 2004, AGUFM, ED11A-06

A VLA Survey of Magnetic Cataclysmic Variable Stars
C. Gray & P. A. Mason 2004, RMxACm 20, 267

A VLA Survey of Magnetic Cataclysmic Variables: The First Radio Detection of the High Field Polar, AR UMa
C. Gray & P. A. Mason 2004, BAAS, 36, 982

Effectiveness of GeoWall Technology in Conceptualizing Lunar Phases
N. Turner, R. Lopez, K. Hamed, D. Corralez, & C. Gray 2004, COSP, 35, 4104