Dante Lauretta

Regents Professor of Planetary Science and Cosmochemistry at University of Arizona

Dante is an expert in near-Earth asteroid formation and evolution, sharing lessons from working at NASA on how we can learn our exploration of the cosmos.

Dante Lauretta is a Regents Professor of Planetary Science and Cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He is an expert in near-Earth asteroid formation and evolution. He is the leader of NASA's OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return mission. OSIRIS-REx is the United States' premier mission to visit one of the most Potentially Hazardous near-Earth Asteroids, survey it to assess its impact hazard and resource potential, understand its physical and chemical properties, and return a sample of this body to Earth for detailed scientific analysis. The spacecraft launched in September 2016 and began its journey to Bennu, a carbon-rich, near-Earth asteroid. The spacecraft rendezvoused with Bennu in 2018 and successfully obtained a sample in October 2020. The spacecraft embarked on its return voyage to Earth on May 10, 2021. Sample return to Earth occurs in 2023. He also maintains an active research program in Cosmochemistry and Meteoritics.

Speech topics

The Power of YES – Management and Team-Building Lessons from Leading a $1 Billion NASA Asteroid Mission

Dante shares his insights and enthusiasm for building teams to go after difficult projects. He focuses on positivity and the power of saying YES to working together, to embracing the challenge, and striving toward excellence. Dante brings in real-world examples developed over two decades of leading one of history’s greatest scientific expeditions – sample return from asteroid Bennu. A space mission like OSIRIS-REx is a grand adventure that brings together teams with diverse backgrounds, expertise, and work styles. Dante led this team through political, technical, and human challenges to achieve excellence. The result is an inspiring session that proves what human beings can accomplish when they channel the power of YES.

Journeys on the Asteroid Frontier – The Engineering Behind NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission

Dante provides an overview of the technological wonder that is OSIRIS-REx – history’s greatest asteroid-exploring robot. The mission achieved many firsts in spaceflight, garnering two Guinness World Records in the process. After years of focused effort, Dante’s team successfully guided the spacecraft to a precision touchdown on an asteroid 200 million miles from Earth. Along the way, the asteroid constantly challenged the team, resulting in quick-thinking and creative problem solving. Attendees will hear firsthand how the depth of human ingenuity, working together as a team, can achieve the seemingly impossible.

Life in the Cosmos – The Search for Consciousness and Biology in the Universe

This presentation is for groups that want to be awed by the majesty of the Universe. Dante has spent his career unraveling the secrets of our early Solar System. He guides the audience through the four-billion-year history of life on Earth then takes them soaring through the solar system to visit ancient Mars, the deep oceans of Jupiter’s moons, and distant exoplanets. This journey involves deep questions about humanity, the nature of consciousness, and the beauty of life. The audience is left with a deep appreciation of their special place in the cosmos.


The Asteroid Hunter

In addition to Dante's The Asteroid Hunter, coming in 2024, he is working on a book with Queen guitarist Brian May, who is also an astrophysicist. Look out for more information on both soon.

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