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LASP Public Lectures

The 2013 – 2014 public lecture series will begin on Friday, October 11th, 2013. Subsequent lectures are scheduled for the first Wednesday of every month through May (with the exception of the January 22nd date) in our Space Sciences Building (room W120) at 7:30 pm. (For details on the October 11th talk, click here.) Doors open at 7 pm. Parking and admission are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Tom Mason (epomail@lasp.colorado.edu or 303-492-8257). Download the schedule (.PDF)


Featured Public Event

Airborne Science at LASP: Extending Observations of the Earth from Above

Airborne Science at LASP: Extending Observations of the Earth from Above
Speaker:   Dr. Peter Pilewskie
Date:   Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   SPSC-W120 (map)
Abstract:  

Airborne observations are a critical element in monitoring the integrated systems of the Earth environment. Even in the age of routine global observations from space, aircraft and balloons provide unique vantage points to sample over spatial and temporal scales that are unattainable from space. They supplement satellite views of Earth with direct measurements of the physical, chemical, and dynamical properties of the atmosphere, function as ideal test-beds for new measurements and instruments, and they are necessary for validating the remote, indirect measurements from satellites.

This talk will highlight some of the major achievements of NASA, NOAA, DOE, and NSF sponsored airborne research over the past several decades, deploying on a broad range of platforms that include high altitude former spy planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, and more humble workhorse cargo planes. Although LASP’s history is more closely tied to sounding rockets and satellites, it has a unique role in shaping future airborne missions through the heritage of its scientists and engineers who have contributed to airborne science for decades. We will discuss how LASP promises to play an ever-expanding role in the science and technology of the bright future of airborne science.


Fall 2013/Spring 2014

To LASP and Beyond…

To LASP and Beyond…
Speaker:   Dr. Sam Durrance
Date:   Friday, October 11, 2013
Time:   6:00 PM; doors open for a reception at 5:15 PM
Location:   LSTB-A200 (map)
Abstract:  

Riding a rocket into space, the exhilaration of zero-g, the satisfaction of operating the Astro Observatory, the emotional impact of seeing Earth from orbit—how can I possibly describe space flight? LASP holds a special place in my heart for setting me on a path to participate in one of the greatest adventures of our time, human spaceflight. LASP is a unique place in the world of science where opportunities abound, where students are able to participate, first-hand, in some of the most exciting space research available anywhere. My time at LASP was filled with exciting research, lifelong friends, caring mentors, and strong connections to other opportunities when I left.

I hope to share with you my journey to LASP, my experiences there, what it was like to spend 26 days in space during two space flights, and…beyond.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

Rockets Go “Whoosh”: Science and Fun with LASP’s Rocket Experiments

Rockets Go “Whoosh”: Science and Fun with LASP’s Rocket Experiments
Speaker:   Dr. Tom Woods
Date:   Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   SPSC-W120 (map)
Abstract:  

LASP space research history is rich with suborbital flights on sounding rockets, balloons, and aircraft. It began in 1950 with flights of its biaxial pointing platform on V2 rockets captured from the Germans. These early rocket experiments discovered the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun and Earth’s upper atmosphere and then expanded into planetary studies in the 1960s.

While satellite observations are more common now, suborbital experiments are still important today to NASA and LASP for unique science events, such as the passing of a comet, development of new technology for space research, underflight calibration for satellite instruments, and training of the next generation of space scientists and engineers. Come to learn more about LASP’s rocket programs and experience the view from inside a rocket.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

Our First Student CubeSat Mission: Concept to Reality and Impact

Our First Student CubeSat Mission: Concept to Reality and Impact
Speaker:   Dr. Xinlin Li
Date:   Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   SPSC-W120 (map)
Abstract:  

The Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE) is a 3-unit (10cm x 10cm x 30cm) CubeSat mission funded by the National Science Foundation, launched into a low-Earth, polar orbit on September 13, 2012, as a secondary payload under NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program. CSSWE contains a single science payload, the Relativistic Electron and Proton Telescope integrated little experiment (REPTile), a miniaturization of the Relativistic Electron and Proton Telescope (REPT) built at LASP for the NASA Van Allen Probes mission, which consists of two identical spacecraft that traverse the heart of the radiation belts in a low inclination orbit.

CSSWE’s REPTile is designed to measure the directional differential flux of protons ranging from 10 to 40 MeV and electrons from 0.58 to >3.8 MeV. The commissioning phase was completed and REPTile was activated on October 4, 2012; the data are clean and exceeding expectations! The fully successful, three-month science mission was completed on January 5, 2013, and the CubeSat continues to operate normally and return high quality science data. Mission operation has been fully automated and data analysis and modeling will continue for years.

Taken in conjunction with measurements from the Van Allen Probes and THEMIS, REPTile has produced significant science results. Many peer-reviewed engineering and science articles have been published on CSSWE and numerous invited talks have been given at conferences around the globe.

Learn about how the CSSWE team overcame a number of engineering challenges to achieve such clean measurements under the mass, volume, and power limits of a CubeSat. You also discover how CSSWE is an ideal class project that involved over 65 undergraduate and graduate students, providing training for the next generation of engineers and scientists over the full life-cycle of this unique satellite project.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

LASP Explores the Planets

LASP Explores the Planets
Speaker:   Dr. Larry Esposito
Date:   Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   SPSC-W120 (map)
Abstract:  

Over the last 50 years, LASP has sent space experiments to all the planets and Pluto. Building on traditional strengths in UV spectroscopy, LASP has built instruments for Mariner, Pioneer Venus, Voyager, MESSENGER, Galileo, Cassini, Mars-96, New Horizons and MAVEN. Dr. Esposito will highlight these planetary investigations, along with their discoveries and insights. He will reminisce on the key roles played by LASP members, and will speculate on the future of planetary exploration and possible future LASP contributions.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

The Atmospheric Part of “LASP”: Ozone, Nitric Oxide, and Solar Influences

The Atmospheric Part of “LASP”: Ozone, Nitric Oxide, and Solar Influences
Speaker:   Dr. Dave Rusch
Date:   Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   SPSC-W120 (map)
Abstract:  

In this talk, Dr. Dave Rusch will provide a historical and scientific review of LASP satellite observations of the Earth’s atmosphere, emphasizing two missions with high science return and significant student involvement in both science and operations.

The Solar Mesosphere Explorer (SME) was launched in 1981. The science mission included the first measurements of ozone in the Earth’s mesosphere. The science results were important to understanding the chemistry and structure of this region of the atmosphere, and data from the mission are still being utilized in atmospheric studies. SME was the first NASA satellite to be operated in space by a university, a significant breakthrough in cost and especially in educational opportunities for students.

The second mission of historical interest is the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE), built and operated by LASP and launched in 1999. Students were involved in the design, fabrication, and testing of the four instruments on board, and analysis of the data. Its scientific goals were to measure nitric oxide density in the terrestrial lower thermosphere (100-200 km altitude) and analyze the energy inputs to that region from the Sun and magnetosphere that create it and cause its abundance to vary. Nitric Oxide is one of the most easily ionized gasses in the upper atmosphere and acts as a cooling agent in the lower thermosphere. In addition, it is a major chemical destroyer of atmospheric ozone. SNOE is one of three satellite projects selected for the Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative program (STEDI). STEDI is funded by NASA and managed by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA). Dr. Rusch will explore the scientific results of each of these historic missions and put them in the context of current scientific understanding.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

The Space Physics Part of “LASP”: Understanding Particles and Fields Throughout the Solar System

The Space Physics Part of “LASP”: Understanding Particles and Fields Throughout the Solar System
Speaker:   Dr. Dan Baker
Date:   Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   SPSC-W120 (map)
Abstract:  

Even before the official dawn of the Space Age—that is, the launch of the Sputnik and Explorer spacecraft in 1957-1958—LASP was engaged in space physics research. Using rockets to get to the fringes of outer space, LASP researchers made pioneering observations of the Sun and Earth’s upper atmosphere.

This talk will recount some of the earlier history of LASP’s contributions to Sun-Earth (“solar terrestrial”) studies. A principal focus of the talk will be the modern studies of energetic particles and electromagnetic fields in Earth’s cosmic neighborhood. LASP has been playing an increasingly prominent role in forefront studies of Earth’s “magnetosphere” and LASP researchers are using this core terrestrial knowledge to advance planetary and astrophysical understanding as well. Moreover, study and understanding of the space environment of Earth is absolutely essential for our knowledge of “space weather” which represents a major threat to our modern technological society. The presentation will address all these aspects and will conclude with a look forward to future LASP programs and opportunities.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

Airborne Science at LASP: Extending Observations of the Earth from Above

Airborne Science at LASP: Extending Observations of the Earth from Above
Speaker:   Dr. Peter Pilewskie
Date:   Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   SPSC-W120 (map)
Abstract:  

Airborne observations are a critical element in monitoring the integrated systems of the Earth environment. Even in the age of routine global observations from space, aircraft and balloons provide unique vantage points to sample over spatial and temporal scales that are unattainable from space. They supplement satellite views of Earth with direct measurements of the physical, chemical, and dynamical properties of the atmosphere, function as ideal test-beds for new measurements and instruments, and they are necessary for validating the remote, indirect measurements from satellites.

This talk will highlight some of the major achievements of NASA, NOAA, DOE, and NSF sponsored airborne research over the past several decades, deploying on a broad range of platforms that include high altitude former spy planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, and more humble workhorse cargo planes. Although LASP’s history is more closely tied to sounding rockets and satellites, it has a unique role in shaping future airborne missions through the heritage of its scientists and engineers who have contributed to airborne science for decades. We will discuss how LASP promises to play an ever-expanding role in the science and technology of the bright future of airborne science.

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