School of Physical Sciences

Dr Stephen Lowry

School of Physical Sciences - Senior Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics - SEPNET

01227 82(3584)


Dr. Lowry is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent's Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. He specializes in optical and infrared observations and modeling of Solar System Small Bodies, making use of both space-based and large ground-based telescope facilities.  

He completed his PhD in 2001 at Queen's University Belfast in the area of cometary science, and from there he was a research fellow for several years in the UK and US. Before moving to his current position at the University of Kent, he was a Research Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on physical and compositional characterizations of cometary and asteroidal bodies, and supported numerous spacecraft missions to these bodies and the development of a new comet surface sample return mission. His publications include four research papers in Science and one in the Nature, and was lead author in a chapter in the recent 'The Solar System Beyond Neptune' book.  

Dr. Lowry is a member of the science team for the OSIRIS optical camera instrument on board ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, en route to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and is Principal Investigator on a new Large Programme at the European Southern Observatory to study near-Earth asteroids.


Book Chapters

Lowry, S. C., Fitzsimmons, A., Lamy, P. and Weissman, P. R. (2008) Kuiper-Belt Objects in the Planetary Region: The Jupiter Family Comets. In The Solar System Beyond Neptune book (Eds., Barucci, A., Boehnhardt, H., Cruikshank, D. and Morbidelli, A.).  University of Arizona Press Space Science Series, p.397-410.

Weissman, P. R., Asphaug, E. and Lowry, S. C. (2005). Structure and density of cometary nuclei, Comets II book (Eds., M.C. Festou, M.C., Keller H.U., and Weaver H.A.), University of Arizona Space Science Series,  p.337-357.


Recent Articles

Hsieh et al. (2012). Discovery of Main-belt Comet P/2006 VW139 by Pan-STARRS1. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 748, Issue 1, L15 (7pp).

Duddy, S., Lowry, S. C., Wolters, S., Christou, A., Weissman, P., Green, S., and Rozitis, B. (2012). Physical and Dynamical Characterisation of the Unbound Asteroid Pair 7343-154634.  Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 539, A36 (11pp).

Bertini, I., et al.  (2012). (21) Lutetia search for satellites with OSIRIS images. Publication of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Accepted by Journal.

Wolters, S., Rozitis, B., Duddy, S., Lowry, S. C., Green, S., Snodgrass, C., Hainaut, O., and Weissman, P. (2011). Physical characterisation of low delta-V asteroid (175706) 1996 FG3. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 418, Issue 2, p.1246-1257.

Meech, K.J., et al. (2011).  EPOXI: 103P/Hartley 2 Observations From a Worldwide Campaign. Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 734, L1 (9pp).

Snodgrass, C., Fitzsimmons, A., Lowry, S. C., and Weissman, P. (2011). The size distribution of Jupiter Family comets. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 414, p.458–469.

Meech, K. J., et al. (2011).  Deep Impact, Stardust-NExT and the Behavior of Comet 9P/Tempel 1 From 1997-2010.  Icarus, Volume 213, p.323–344.

Belton, M. J. S., et al. (2010). Stardust-NExT, Deep Impact, and the accelerating spin of 9P/Tempel 1. Icarus, Volume 213, p.345–368.

Snodgrass, C., C. Tubiana, J.-B. Vincent, H. Sierks, S. Hviid, R. Moissl, H. Boehnhardt, C. Barbieri, D. Koschny, P. Lamy, H. Rickman, R. Rodrigo, B. Carry, S.C. Lowry, et al. (2010). The date of recent asteroid collision P/2010 A2 from Rosetta/OSIRIS observations. Nature, Volume 467, p.814-816.

Keller, H. U. and the OSIRIS Science Team.  (2010). E-Type Asteroid (2867) Steins as Imaged by OSIRIS on Board Rosetta.  Science, Volume 327, p.190-193.

Hsieh, H. H., Jewitt, D., Lacerda, P., Lowry, S. C., and Snodgrass, C.  (2010).  The Return of Activity in Comet 133P/Elst-Pizarro.  Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 403, p.363-377.

Licandro, J., Campins, H., Kelley, M., Fernandez,  Y.,  Delbo, M., Reach,  W. T., Groussin, O., Lamy,  P. L., Toth, I., A’Hearn, M. F.,  Bauer, J., Lowry, S. C., et al. (2009). Spitzer observations of the asteroid-comet transition object and potential spacecraft target 107P (4015) Wilson-Harrington.  Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 507, p.1667-1670.

Groussin, O., P. Lamy, I. Toth, M. Kelley, Y. Fernandez, Lowry, S. C., Meech, K., Licandro, J., Campins, H., and Snodgrass, C. (2009).  The Size and Thermal Properties of the Nucleus of Comet 22P/Kopff.  Icarus Notes 199, p.568-570.

Küppers, M., et al. (2009). Triple F – A Comet Nucleus Sample Return Mission. Experimental Astronomy (Special Issue for ESA Cosmic Visions proposals), Volume 23, Issue 3, p.809-847.

Meech, K. J., Pittichova, J., Bar-Nun, A., Notesco, G., Laufer, D., Hainaut, O. R., Lowry, S. C., Yeomans D. C., and Pitts M. (2009). Activity of Comets at Large Heliocentric Distances Pre-perihelion. Icarus, Volume 201, Issue 2, p.719-739.

Weissman, P., and Lowry, S. C. (2008). Structure and Density of Cometary Nuclei. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 43, p.1033–1047.

Lamy, P. L ., Kaasalainen, M., Lowry, S. C., et al. (2008).  Asteroid 2867 Steins: II. Multi-telescope visible observations, shape reconstruction and rotational state. Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 487, p.1179–1185.

Jorda, L., Lamy, P. L., Faury, G., Weissman, P., Barucci, M. A., Fornasier, S., Lowry, S. C., Toth, I., and M. Kuppers. (2008). Asteroid 2867 Steins: I. Photometric properties from OSIRIS/Rosetta and ground-based visible observations. Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 487, p.1171–1178.

Durech, J., Vokrouhlicky, D., Kaasalainen, M., Weissman, P., Lowry, S. C., et al. (2008). New photometric observations of asteroids (1862) Apollo and (25143) Itokawa – analysis of YORP effect. Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 488, p.345–350.

Weissman, P., Hicks, M., Abell, P., Choi, Y-J, and Lowry, S. C. (2008). Rosetta Target Asteroid 2867 Steins: A Very Unusual E-type Asteroid, Meteoritics and Planetary Science, Volume 43, p905-914.

Snodgrass, C., Lowry, S. C., Fitzsimmons, A., and Hainaut, O. (2008). Optical observations of 23 distant Jupiter Family Comets, including 36P/Whipple at multiple phase angles.  Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 385, p.737-756.

Carvano, J. M., Barucci, M. A., Fornasier, S., Delbo, M., Lowry, S. C., and Fitzsimmons, A. (2007). Surface properties of Rosetta's targets (21) Lutetia and (2867) Steins from ESO observations. Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 479, p.241-248.

Lowry, S. C., Fitzsimmons, A., Pravec, P., Vokrouhlicky D., Boehnhardt, H., Taylor, P. Margot, J-L., Galad, A., Irwin, M., Irwin, J., and Kushnirak, P. (2007). Direct Detection of the Asteroidal YORP Effect. Science, Volume 316, p.272-274.

Taylor, P. Margot, J-L., Vokrouhlicky, D., Scheeres, D., Pravec, P., Lowry, S. C., Fitzsimmons, A., Nolan, M., Ostro, S., Benner, L. Giorgini, J., and Magri, C. (2007). The Increasing Spin Rate of 54509 (2000 PH5) – A Result of the YORP Effect. Science, Volume 316, p.274-277.

Also see:

Rubincam, D. P. and Paddack, S. J. (2007). As Tiny Worlds Turn. Science, Volume 316, p.211-212.

Bottke, W. F. (2007). Spun in the Sun. Nature, Volume 446, p.382-383.

Weissman, P. R., Lowry, S. C. and Choi, Y.-J. (2007). Photometric observations of Rosetta target asteroid 2867 Steins, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 466, p.737-742.

Lowry, S. C. and Weissman, P. R. (2007). Rotation and colour properties of the nucleus of comet 2P/Encke, Icarus, Volume 188, p.212-223.

Kuppers, M., Mottola, S., Lowry, S., et al. (2007). Determination of the light curve of the Rosetta target Asteroid (2867) Steins by the OSIRIS cameras onboard Rosetta. Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters, Volume 462, p.L13-L16.

Keller, H. U., Kuppers, M.Fornasier, S.Gutierrez, P.Hviid, S.Jorda, L.Knollenberg, J.Lowry, S. C., et al. (2007).Observations of Comet 9P/Tempel 1 around the Deep Impact event by the OSIRIS cameras onboard Rosetta. Icarus (Deep Impact special issue), Volume 187, p.87-103.

Lamy, P., Toth, I., Davidsson, B., Grousin, O., Guiterrez, P., Kaasalainen, M. and Lowry, S. (2007). Portrait of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Target of the Rosetta mission, Space Science Reviews, Volume 128, p.23-66.


Full publication list can be viewed here:


  • PH709: Space Astronomy and Solar System Science - Topics include: Solar System Evolution, Exploration of the Solar System by Spacecraft, Space Astronomy, Astrobiology. This is a Year-4 lecture-based course, shared with Prof. M. Smith. Dr Lowry is Module Convenor.
  • PH711: Rocketry and Human Spaceflight - Topics include: Space Systems Design and Flight Operations. This is a lecture-based course, shared with Dr. Mark Price. Dr Lowry is Module Convenor.
  • PH508: Spacecraft Design and Operations - Topics include: Spacecraft Systems Design and Orbit Dynamics, Project Management. This is a Stage-2 lecture-based course. Dr Lowry is Module Convenor.
  • PH512: Multimedia is Astronomy, Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences - This is a Year-2 laboratory-based module offered in the Spring term. Topics include: Virtual Observatories, Online Data Repositories, Astronomy Image-Analysis Techniques. Dr Lowry is Module Convenor.
  • PH700: Physics Research Project - Dr. Lowry offers multiple projects for this Stage-4 advanced research project module. Projects include analysis and modeling of observational data of Near-Earth Asteroids and other small solar systems bodies.
  • PH600: Physics Project - Dr. Lowry supervises multiple research projects for this Year-3 project module. Projects are astronomy based.
  • PH301: Physics Multiple workshops held in Spring term in support of this lecture based module.
  • PH307: Disasters - Dr Lowry coordinates that part of the course related to 'Asteroid Impacts'.
  • Numerous MSc and PhD projects are also offered.

Contact information

Office information

Room 111, Ingram Building

School of Physical Sciences, Ingram Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NH

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Last Updated: 05/11/2015