Solar System Exploration Division

Nicholas Raymond Colmenares

(POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW)

 nicholas.r.colmenares@nasa.gov

Org Code: 61A

NASA/GSFC
Mail Code: 61A.1
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Employer: NPP POST-DOC CONTRACT

Brief Bio


Nick Colmenares is a Postdoctoral Fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Earth Sciences Division, Geodesy and Geophysics Laboratory through Oak Ridge Associated Universities. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California San Diego working on the operation and improvement of the Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation (APOLLO), which routinely measures the distance to the Moon at the millimeter scale. He briefly worked as a Research and Development Engineer in San Diego at Clinicomp - a healthcare IT and medical device R&D company - on a project to reduce risk and improve outcomes of high-risk pregnancy deliveries. In 2021 he became a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow to continue research centered on APOLLO (now also known as the Apache Point Lunar Laser Ranging Station, or APLLRS), which NASA became stewards of earlier the same year, under the guidance of Dr. Stephen M. Merkowitz.


His personal interests include yoga, mindfulness, gardening, video games and exploring natural scenery with his cat Juno and newer cat James.

Current Projects


Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation/Apache Point Lunar Laser Ranging Station

Geophysics

Scientist/Engineer for the Apache Point Lunar Laser-ranging Operation (APOLLO), which measures the distance to the Moon to millimeter precision on a regular basis in order to test aspects of gravity, like the Strong Equivalence Principle, the secular evolution of the gravitational constant G, etc.


Nick was responsible for the software regarding instrument communication and monitoring for a recently installed Absolute Calibration System (ACS), designed the optical mounting hardware and aided installation of calibration equipment. Once the ACS was installed and taking data, he was charged with developing the software to reduce calibrator data into a usable form, analyze the results, and develop a methodology to integrate timing corrections into the main data pipeline.


Nick is additionally responsible for the management and revision of software governing system operation/data acquisition, and the reduction of lunar range data products into usable forms.

Positions/Employment


NASA Postdoctoral Fellow

NASA GSFC/ORAU - Greenbelt, MD.

August 2021 - Present


Research and Development Engineer

Clinicomp - San Diego

November 2020 - May 2021

Education


Doctor of Philosophy, University of California San Diego, 2020. Program in Physics. Major area of study: Experimental General Relativity. Dissertation: "Calibrating the Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation (APOLLO) Apparatus."


Master of Science, University of California San Diego, 2014. Program in Physics.


Bachelor of Science, Indiana University, 2011. Major in Physics, Major in Astronomy/Astrophysics, Minor in Mathematics.

Publications


Refereed

Battat, J. B., E. Adelberger, N. R. Colmenares, et al. M. Farrah, D. P. Gonzales, C. D. Hoyle, R. J. McMillan, T. W. Murphy, S. Sabhlok, and C. W. Stubbs. 2023. Fifteen years of millimeter accuracy lunar laser ranging with APOLLO: dataset characterization Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific [https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2304.11128]

Colmenares, N. R., J. B. Battat, D. P. Gonzales, T. W. Murphy, and S. Sabhlok. 2023. Fifteen years of millimeter accuracy lunar laser ranging with APOLLO: data reduction and calibration Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific [https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2304.11174]

Adelberger, E. G., J. B. Battat, K. J. Birkmeier, et al. N. R. Colmenares, R. Davis, C. D. Hoyle, L. R. Huang, R. J. McMillan, T. W. Murphy, E. Schlerman, C. Skrobol, C. W. Stubbs, and A. Zach. 2017. An absolute calibration system for millimeter-accuracy APOLLO measurements Classical and Quantum Gravity 34 (24): 245008 [10.1088/1361-6382/aa953b]

Liang, Y., T. W. Murphy, N. R. Colmenares, and J. B. Battat. 2017. APOLLO clock performance and normal point corrections Classical and Quantum Gravity 34 (24): 245009 [10.1088/1361-6382/aa953c]

Non-Refereed

Colmenares, N. R., J. B. Battat, D. P. Gonzales, et al. E. D. Hoffman, F. G. Lemoine, R. M. McMillan, S. M. Merkowitz, T. W. Murphy, S. S. Sabhlok, and V. Viswanathan. 2023. Recent Developments at the Apache Point Lunar Laser Ranging Station Proceedings of the 22nd International Workshop on Laser Ranging

Battat, J. B., L. R. Huang, E. Schlerman, et al. T. W. Murphy, N. R. Colmenares, and R. Davis. 2017. Timing calibration of the APOLLO experiment arxiv [https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.1707.00204]

Murphy, T. W., E. Adelberger, J. B. Battat, et al. N. R. Colmenares, D. Crossley, C. D. Hoyle, N. Johnson, R. McMillan, C. Stubbs, and E. Swanson. 2015. APOLLO Performance and Data Quality CDDIS