Grand Marshal

The Downtown Parade of Lights is honored to present the 2023 Grand Marshal Dr. Dante Lauretta.

Dante Lauretta is a Regents Professor of Planetary Science and Cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He is also the director of the new Arizona Astrobiology Center. 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 obtained a sample in October 2020, then embarked on its return voyage to Earth on May 10, 2021, and successfully released the sample return capsule, which landed on September 24, 2023.

Dr. Lauretta will be gracing the Parade of Lights with his presence on Saturday, December 16, 2023. The Parade thanks Dr. Lauretta for his research and contribution to the sciences! We ask the Tucson community to join us in celebrating his efforts by attending the parade and honoring his dedication to our future through scientific research.