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LASP Public Lectures

This is the schedule for 2015 – 2016. Our lectures are held on the first Wednesday of every month from October through May in our LASP Space Technology Building (in the auditorium—rm. 299) at 7:30 pm.

Doors open at 7 pm. Parking is free in the LSTB lot; all lectures are free and open to the public.

A playlist of the 2014 – 2015 series can be found here: 2014 – 2015 LASP public lecture series.

For more information, contact the LASP Office of Communications and Outreach at: epomail@lasp.colorado.edu or 303-735-0962.

 



Featured Public Event

MAVEN’s Mars Space Weather Report

MAVEN’s Mars Space Weather Report
Speaker:   Mike Chaffin
Date:   Wed. May 4th
Time:   7:30 p.m.
Location:   LASP Space Technology Building, 1234 Innovation Dr.
Abstract:  

Mars was once a planet with a thicker atmosphere that could support liquid water on its surface, but is now a desert world with much of its atmosphere lost to space. CU/LASP’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission has been orbiting Mars for over a year, collecting data on the the planet’s atmosphere, and determining rates of atmospheric escape. MAVEN’s comprehensive measurements of atmospheric particles are helping scientists understand the history of atmospheric escape at Mars, and are essential to reconstructing the history of Mars’ water loss.


Current Schedule:

MAVEN’s Mars Space Weather Report

MAVEN’s Mars Space Weather Report
Speaker:   Mike Chaffin
Date:   Wed. May 4th
Time:   7:30 p.m.
Location:   LASP Space Technology Building, 1234 Innovation Dr.
Abstract:  

Mars was once a planet with a thicker atmosphere that could support liquid water on its surface, but is now a desert world with much of its atmosphere lost to space. CU/LASP’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission has been orbiting Mars for over a year, collecting data on the the planet’s atmosphere, and determining rates of atmospheric escape. MAVEN’s comprehensive measurements of atmospheric particles are helping scientists understand the history of atmospheric escape at Mars, and are essential to reconstructing the history of Mars’ water loss.

Zombie Satellites, Killer Electrons, and Physics in Space! The strange but true tales of AARDDVARK – Radio research in the Antarctic and Arctic

Zombie Satellites, Killer Electrons, and Physics in Space! The strange but true tales of AARDDVARK – Radio research in the Antarctic and Arctic
Speaker:   Craig Rodger, University of Otago
Date:   Wed., October 7th
Time:   7:30 p.m.
Location:   LASP Space Technology Building, 1234 Innovation Dr.
Abstract:  

The space around the Earth is filled with fast moving particles trapped in two “belts” by our magnetic field. The belts were named the “Van Allen radiation belts” in 1958 honor of their discoverer, James Van Allen.

Earth-orbiting satellites can be damaged or even lost due to increased high-energy electron fluxes in the Earth’s radiation belts. Craig Rodger from New Zealand studies how these high energy particles are lost into the polar atmosphere using the AARDDVARK network located in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

The Hidden Ocean, NASA’s Europa Mission, and the Search for Habitability

The Hidden Ocean, NASA’s Europa Mission, and the Search for Habitability
Speaker:   Sascha Kempf
Date:   Wed., November 4th
Time:   7:30 p.m.
Location:   LASP Space Technology Building, 1234 Innovation Dr.
Abstract:  

NASA’s next flagship mission will explore whether Jupiter’s moon Europa could harbor conditions suitable for life. Previous missions have provided compelling evidence for such conditions on Europa: The moon most likely harbors a global ocean underneath its icy crust; the conditions within the ocean are acceptable for extant terrestrial life; and the chemical inventory of the ocean provides the range of elements essential for Earth-like organisms.

The mission will place a spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter to perform closes flybys of Europa. NASA has selected nine instruments for this mission, including cameras and spectrometers, an ice-penetrating radar, a thermal instrument, a magnetometer, and in-situ mass spectrometers. LASP will provide the Surface Dust Analyzer (SUDA), an instrument to investigate the chemical makeup of Europa’s surface, which may hold the fundamental clues for understanding its potential to develop and sustain life, because materials embedded in the ice matrix on Europa’s surface carry a treasure trove of information about the moon’s interior.

In this talk, SUDA principal investigator, Sascha Kempf, will provide an overview about NASA’s mission to Europa and how the scientific payload will help determine if this moon can sustain life.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

The Origins and Mystery of the Aurora

The Origins and Mystery of the Aurora
Speaker:   Allison Jaynes
Date:   Wed., December 2nd
Time:   7:30 p.m.
Location:   LASP Space Technology Building, 1234 Innovation Dr.
Abstract:  

The dancing lights of the aurora have enthralled humans for centuries. Early recorded histories illustrate the truly magnetic pull that these awesome displays have had over observers throughout the ages. At one time, scientists and explorers could only guess at the cause of the magnificent lights in the polar sky, while today we have a wealth of data we can use to study the origin of the aurora. Even now, do we truly understand the processes that result in the northern lights?

Various interactions between electromagnetic waves and charged particles can occur very near the Earth as well as far away in the magnetosphere. These events conspire to create a host of various auroral emissions and forms. Today, we use ground-based instrumentation, sounding rocket experiments, and in-situ satellite observations from the full Heliophysics satellite fleet to study the aurora in all of its complexity.

In this talk, Allison Jaynes will focus on the history, the current understanding of the science, and of course, the natural beauty of the aurora. Come learn about a phenomenon that on rare occasions can occur in the night sky directly above Boulder! And find out how scientists are studying the origins and chasing the mystery of the northern lights.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

A Blast from the Past—Misinformation in your nightly weather report and the history of the Polar Vortex

A Blast from the Past—Misinformation in your nightly weather report and the history of the Polar Vortex
Speaker:   Lynn Harvey
Date:   Wed., February 3rd
Time:   7:30 p.m.
Location:   LASP Space Technology Building, 1234 Innovation Dr.
Abstract:  

Since it is wintertime, I wasn’t surprised to see “Get ready for the return of the polar vortex!” as a newspaper headline the other day, given forecasts for cold weather. But what is all this hype about the polar vortex and why didn’t I hear about it as a kid? Has this atmospheric phenomenon emerged as a result of climate change or in response to the movie The Day After Tomorrow? Will it rip the roof off my house like a giant tornado? In this talk I will present a history of the polar vortex, dispel any misconceptions, and summarize how the polar vortex is expected to change in a warmer climate.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

Pluto—The pugnacious planet!

Pluto—The pugnacious planet!
Speaker:   Fran Bagenal
Date:   Wed., March 2nd
Time:   7:30 p.m.
Location:   LASP Space Technology Building, 1234 Innovation Dr.
Abstract:  

Even in our wildest dreams none of us on the New Horizons team really expected Pluto to produce such riches: water ice mountains as big as the Rocky Mountains, glaciers of nitrogen ice, black hydrocarbons covering aging craters, fresh methane frost dusting tops of mountains, pitted landscapes shaped by sublimation, an ice volcano as big as Mauna Kea, and, most bizarre of all, a landscape that resembles the skin of a snake.

My favorite image is a glance back, outbound from the flyby, looking at an icy landscape back-lit by layers of atmospheric hazes. In this talk I describe how New Horizons came to be, how the spacecraft got to Pluto, and how the findings are challenging our understanding of ice worlds in the outer solar system.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

Our Evolving Sun, Life on Earth, and the Habitability of Other Worlds

Our Evolving Sun, Life on Earth, and the Habitability of Other Worlds
Speaker:   Eric Wolf
Date:   Wed., April 6th
Time:   7:30 p.m.
Location:   LASP Space Technology Building, 1234 Innovation Dr.
Abstract:  

Nearly every star in the night sky is a Sun, host to its own system of planets. Exoplanet hunters are keen on detecting Earth-like planets around other stars, but currently our best observations are limited to only the most basic geophysical parameters.

Fortunately, we can say a lot about these alien worlds by first examining the nature and evolution of terrestrial planets found in our own solar system. As our Sun has evolved in time, so too have Venus, Earth, and Mars. All have evidence of liquid water early in their histories, but only Earth remains habitable today. We will discuss the evolution of terrestrial planet atmospheres in relation to the host star, touching upon topics of the Faint Young Sun Paradox, snowball Earth episodes, moist and runaway greenhouses, and the search for a second Earth.

Watch the Public Lecture on YouTube

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