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hometown: San Fransisco, CA, United States
degree: Ph.D. Astronomy
Michael H. Wong
Early images from some of the Voyager encounters, Carl Sagan's imaginative Cosmos TV show, and magazines like Discover and Odyssey fascinated me at a young age. I wanted to learn as much as I could about planets. After some years in school, and lots of reading, I reached the point where if I wanted to learn more, I had to do my own original research. // This curiosity about our universe is something shared by the fraction of humanity that can afford to be curious. My work now is motivated by satisfying some part of our curiosity, in my own little area of Jupiter atmospheric science. Like artists, pure physical scientists' real "product" is not a journal article or book---it is something intangible, a general contribution to mankind's knowledge that feeds the passion for discovery. // My focus on Jupiter's clouds came about due to forces beyond my control. I began Jupiter studies during the Shoemaker-Levy 9 collisions just because the impacts happened at the right time. Then I worked on Galileo Probe Mass Spectrometer data because that was the best available project with my graduate advisor, Sushil Atreya. From there, building on prior expertise led to the discovery of Jupiter's ammonia ice spectral signature at thermal infrared wavelengths with Cassini CIRS collaborators at NASA Goddard, and high-resolution imaging campaigns with Imke de Pater, Heidi Hammel, and others targeting Jupiter using the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based adaptive optics systems (like at Keck Observatory). My current active areas of research include velocity fields and structure of anticyclonic storms; the chemistry, composition, and dynamics of clouds; giant planet composition as a constraint on planet formation; impacts; and characterization of small solar system bodies.