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Dr. Sykes is a Co-Investigator on the NASA Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres. He has designed numerous planetary missions using solar electric propulsion including multiple asteroid rendezvous and a Pluto orbiter mission which was to be powered by a uranium reactor. He was PI of the proposed Eve mission to 10 Hygeia. He began his professional life at the University of Oregon's Pine Mountain Observatory making photometric and polarometric observations of eclipsing binaries, in particular the first black hole system Cygnux X-1. After spending some time studying laser physics and developing analog convolution methods in applied optics at the Oregon Graduate Center, he ended up getting his PhD in planetary science at the University of Arizona where he discovered and identified comet trails and numerous bands of dust surrounding the inner solar system created by asteroid collisions. 

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