Professor Stephen Lowry

Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Science

Current Research Interests

My research programme focuses on observations of Small Solar System Bodies (SSSBs), with particular emphasis on Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs), and comets, including Main Belt Comets (MBCs). This field is of particular importance as these bodies are the only surviving remnants of the formation era of our Solar System, and several space missions have been launched to these bodies to help answer fundamental questions regarding their nature.

This research involves the use of large ground-based optical and infrared telescope facilities, as well as space-based telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Infrared Telescope. We also now use planetary radar facilities, including the Arecibo Observatory (Puerto Rico, USA). Analysis techniques used include: image analysis and photometry, spectroscopy, 3-D shape and spin-state modelling from optical and radar observations, and thermophysical modelling.

The SSSBs observations and modelling group includes Dr. Agata Rozek, an STFC funded Post-Doctoral Research Associate, and PhD student Tarik Zegmott (currently on placement at the Isaac Newtown Group of Telescopes, La Palma, Spain). A new PhD student is due to start in January 2019. The group also has interest in spacecraft exploration of these bodies.  Prof. Lowry is currently part of the science analysis team for the OSIRIS instrument on board the recent Rosetta comet explorer spacecraft, and has supported many other spacecraft missions by helping to characterize the target bodies, either leading up to or during the encounter phase. The group is also involved in the development of several mission concepts to visit cometary bodies.



2009 – 2011: Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, University of Kent (UK)

1997 – 2001: PhD (Astrophysics and Planetary Science), Queen’s University Belfast (UK)

1994 – 1997: BSc, 1st Class Hon. (Physics with Astrophysics), Queen’s University Belfast (UK)

Past Research Experience/Projects

2009 – Present: Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Science, University of Kent (UK) 

2007 – 2009: Research Scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology (California, USA)

2006 – 2007: Leverhulme Research Fellow, Queen’s University Belfast (UK), Astrophysics Research Centre

2003 – 2006: PPARC Research Fellow and Temporary Lecturer in Solar System Astronomy, Queen’s University Belfast (UK),  Astrophysics Research Centre

2001 – 2003: National Research Council Resident Research Associate, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology (California, USA)


Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository