Dr. Tamara (Mara) Payne leads the space department at Applied Optimization which includes the development of two telescope systems. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a Master’s degree in Computational Physics and Astronomy. For her master’s thesis work, she observed with the .9-meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile and studied the pre-Main Sequence population of the open cluster NGC3293.
Dr. Payne then went to New Mexico State University for her doctorate work. Her research explorations included astrometry and planetary atmospheres and class projects using the 1-meter telescope at the Blue Mesa Observatory. She went on to study solar energetic phenomena in the chromosphere and photosphere for her dissertation. She was awarded an Air Force Palace Knight position to complete her research and study space weather and solar energetic activity prediction methods, which launched her career as an Air Force civilian. She was part of the Air Force Laboratory Star Team awarded for research in solar environmental disturbances. She completed her dissertation work in 1993 which involved a coordinated observations campaign of a selected solar active region in three major wavelength regimes—soft x-rays, visible, and radio—using a space-based telescope (YOHKOH), the Vacuum Tower Telescope at Sunspot, New Mexico, and the Very Large Array (VLA) telescope near Socorro, New Mexico.
After graduation, Dr. Payne moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico and then Maui, Hawaii, to participate in research efforts to explore the spectral characteristics of satellites using the skills she developed in multi-wavelength analysis. She has worked in this field for fourteen years during which she’s had observing experience on the several Air Force telescopes. While in Albuquerque, she was a research associate for the University of New Mexico Institute for Astrophysics. She taught introductory astronomy and observed with the UNM Capilla Peak Observatory’s 1.2-meter telescope. She continued this research by moving to Dayton, Ohio, where she joined her colleague Dr. Anil Chaudhary at Applied Optimization.
Dr. Payne’s specialties and expertise are as follows:
- Systems Engineering
- Image Processing
- Research & Development
- Mathematical Modeling and Simulations
- Space Objects Characterization
- Space Situational Awareness
- Project Management
- Public Outreach