Public Lectures

Please see below for the schedule of our 2017-18 public lecture series.

Useful information for attending our lectures:

  • Free and open to the public
  • Start at 7:30 PM (doors at 7:00 PM)
  • Held in the LASP Space Technology Building
  • Free parking in the lot in front of the building
  • First Wednesdays, October-May, except January

For more information, contact the LASP Office of Communications and Outreach at epomail@lasp.colorado.edu.

Videos of the 2016-17 Public Lecture Series and other seasons can be viewed on the LASP YouTube channel.



Featured Public Event


Current Schedule:

Out of this World! Operating the Kepler Mission with University Students

Out of this World! Operating the Kepler Mission with University Students
Speaker:   Bill Possel
Date:   Wednesday, Oct 04, 2017
Time:   7:30 PM
Location:   LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Abstract:
 

The Kepler spacecraft, launched in 2009, has been one of NASA’s most scientifically successful missions. From the first command to the spacecraft, students at LASP have been participating in Kepler’s mission operations. Kepler has amazed the world with the discovery of numerous planets circling distant stars in our galaxy. Yet Kepler has been one of the most challenging spacecraft to operate due to several on-orbit failures. Despite these failures, Kepler continues to collect valuable astronomical data and provide a training ground for future space professionals.

Bill Possel, the director of LASP’s Mission Operations and Data Systems, will describe this unique student program and give updates on the latest results from Kepler.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

LASP Contributions to Monitoring Earth’s Energy Balance from Space

LASP Contributions to Monitoring Earth’s Energy Balance from Space
Speaker:   Odele Coddington
Date:   Wednesday, Nov 01, 2017
Time:   7:30 PM
Location:   LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Abstract:
 

LASP has a long history of measuring the Sun’s radiant energy from high-altitude balloons, sounding rockets, and from satellite platforms in order to understand its influences on Earth’s environment. In the very near term, LASP will measure the Sun’s energy output from a new frontier – the International Space Station – with the launch of the Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS) at the end of November 2017.

In this LASP public lecture featuring atmospheric scientist Odele Coddington, you’ll learn how LASP is contributing to space measurements of Earth’s energy balance with the TSIS and CLARREO Pathfinder missions. Along the way, see fun videos of the TSIS platform during testing as it is prepared for launch.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

Science Data Centers – How We Turn Bits Into Science Results

Science Data Centers – How We Turn Bits Into Science Results
Speaker:   Alex DeWolfe
Date:   Wednesday, Dec 06, 2017
Time:   7:30 PM
Location:   LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Abstract:
 

What happens between the spacecraft and the science results? How do we take that stream of ones and zeroes that comes back from space and turn it into something that a scientist can use? What do we do when a spacecraft sends back gigabytes of data per day and we can’t possibly look at it all, or when there are glitches and gaps and our images are full of holes?

These are the questions that will be answered in our discussion of “How we turn bits into science results.” This talk will describe some of the lesser-known aspects of the “pipeline” that turns the bits from the spacecraft into products that scientists can use to make new discoveries. We’ll talk about the vast differences between all the various data sets that we handle here at LASP, the similarities between the pipelines, and the challenges that arise in processing, storing, and distributing unique spacecraft datasets.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

Cassini’s Grand Finale

Cassini’s Grand Finale
Speaker:   Larry Esposito
Date:   Wednesday, Feb 07, 2018
Time:   7:30 PM
Location:   LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Abstract:
 

The NASA Cassini orbiter ended its 13-year exploration of the Saturn system on September 15, 2017, burning up in the planet’s atmosphere as planned. LASP designed, built, tested, and operated Cassini’s UltraViolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS). Even though the mission has ended, team members worldwide will continue to interpret instrument observations and publish results in scientific journals for years to come.

During the six months preceding Cassini’s dramatic finale, UVIS collected valuable information that was too risky to obtain earlier in the mission. These discoveries include the closest images ever obtained of Saturn’s auroras and the glowing air of Saturn that enveloped the spacecraft during Cassini’s final data transmission.

Although the end of the mission was bittersweet for all involved, Cassini’s “Grand Finale” ensured that its entire payload, including UVIS, contributed awe-inspiring and unique science data right up to its final moments. Cassini deepened our understanding of the universe and heightened our connection to the outer solar system. At its conclusion, it will be remembered as one of the most scientifically rich and impactful voyages yet undertaken.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

Are We Alone? LASP Prepares for Future NASA Missions to Discover Life Beyond the Solar System

Are We Alone? LASP Prepares for Future NASA Missions to Discover Life Beyond the Solar System
Speaker:   Kevin France
Date:   Wednesday, Mar 07, 2018
Time:   7:30 PM
Location:   LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Abstract:
 

The success of exoplanet detection in recent years has demonstrated that, on average, every star in the Milky Way hosts a planetary system. With so many planets now discovered, the challenge of the next three decades is characterizing those planets to assess their potential habitability and search for the signs of active biology.

NASA is currently developing the concept for a “Super-Hubble Space Telescope,” the Large Ultraviolet/Optical/InfraRed Surveyor (LUVOIR), to discover ‘Pale Blue Dots’ around Sun-like stars beyond our solar system and probe their atmospheres for the signs of life. LASP is playing a leading role in the scientific and technical development of LUVOIR.

In this talk, Kevin will present an overview of recent exoplanet discoveries to provide a context for our place in the Milky Way. He’ll talk about the steps LUVOIR will take to discover and characterize biologically active worlds beyond the solar system, and focus on the role LASP is playing in this story. The presentation will conclude with a discussion about some of LASP’s present-day experiments-flying on rockets and small satellites-that are paving the way for LUVOIR’s instruments in the next decade.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

Engineering an Instrument to Investigate the Habitability of Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Engineering an Instrument to Investigate the Habitability of Jupiter’s Moon Europa
Speaker:   Scott Tucker
Date:   Wednesday, Apr 04, 2018
Time:   7:30 PM
Location:   LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Abstract:
 

NASA has selected LASP to provide the Surface Dust Analyzer (SUDA) instrument for NASA’s mission to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa. The Europa Clipper will orbit Jupiter and conduct detailed reconnaissance of the moon through low-altitude flybys. SUDA’s objective is to identify the material ejected from the surface to determine if Europa could have conditions suitable for life.

Jupiter’s strong magnetic field traps radiation much like Earth’s Van Allen belts, and high-energy particles can damage spacecraft and instrument electronics. The Europa Clipper and SUDA must be engineered to operate in a radiation environment thousands of times more intense than the Earth’s, use a minimum amount of power, and survive a harshly cold thermal environment.

In his talk, Scott will present an overview of the Europa Clipper mission and the SUDA science investigation, including novel techniques employed by SUDA to make in-situ surface composition measurements from an altitude of 25 km. He will then describe how a highly sensitive instrument like SUDA must be engineered in order to operate in the harsh environment at Jupiter.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

The Parker Solar Probe: The First Mission to Our Nearest Star

The Parker Solar Probe: The First Mission to Our Nearest Star
Speaker:   David Malaspina
Date:   Wednesday, May 02, 2018
Time:   7:30 PM
Location:   LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Abstract:
 

Later this summer, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft will begin a historic mission to our nearest star, the Sun. By measuring particles, electric fields, and magnetic fields, Parker Solar Probe will strive to answer Big Questions about the sources and variability of the solar wind. Understanding the solar wind is important, in part, because it carries energy and momentum from the Sun to the Earth, profoundly shaping the near-Earth space environment. To carry out its mission, the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft must travel very close to the Sun, reaching a distance of less than 5 million miles from the solar surface. This orbit requires the spacecraft to endure extreme heat, extreme cold, and unprecedented speeds, all with minimal communication with Earth.

Dr. Malaspina will discuss the solar wind and the Big Questions that motivate Parker Solar Probe. He will describe the spacecraft, including its scientific instruments, challenges to its survival, and its orbit. Finally, he will present LASP’s contribution to the FIELDS instrument and report on preparations for this summer’s launch.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube