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Public Lectures

The 2011-2012 lecture series will begin on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011. Lectures are the first Wednesday of every month in Auditorium 299 at 7:30 pm. 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 303-735-0962).

Click here to download 2011-2012 Seminar Schedule (.pdf)



Fall 2011 / Spring 2012

Understanding the Sun’s Variations During the Past Thirty Years

Understanding the Sun’s Variations During the Past Thirty Years
Speaker:   Dr. Gary Rottman
Date:   October 5, 2011
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   LSTB-299, Auditorium
Abstract:  

Dr. Rottman will examine the solar record obtained at CU during the past 60 years. Special attention will be given to observations from the NASA Solar Mesosphere Explorer (SME) launched thirty years ago this October. LASP scientists directed that investigation, LASP engineers built the instruments, and staff and students operated the satellite from the Boulder campus for 7 ½ years. The SME mission is the paradigm of space research carried out at the University today.

The 2011 Mars Science Laboratory Mission: Assessing the Potential for Past Life on the Red Planet

The 2011 Mars Science Laboratory Mission: Assessing the Potential for Past Life on the Red Planet
Speaker:   Dr. Brian Hynek
Date:   November 2, 2011
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   LSTB-299, Auditorium
Abstract:  

This November, a most capable rover will be launched from Earth en route to the surface of Mars. The chosen landing site is Gale Crater, a large and ancient impact basin that has many geological, chemical, and mineral signatures within it that record a long history of water. The Mars Science Laboratory has roughly a dozen instruments that will detail the past environment and search for signatures of ancient life on Mars over the course of several years. In this public lecture, Dr. Hynek will discuss the evidence of an ancient habitable environment in Gale Crater and how the Mars Science Laboratory will sleuth out signs of any preserved biosignatures. We may be very close to discovering if other planets had life in the distant past!

Watch this Public Lecture on YouTube

Mission Operations at CU/LASP: Developing the Next Generation of Space Professionals

Mission Operations at CU/LASP: Developing the Next Generation of Space Professionals
Speaker:   Bill Possel, Director of LASP Mission Operations & Data Systems
Date:   December 7, 2011
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   LSTB-299, Auditorium
Abstract:  

Back in 1981, LASP began operating spacecraft with a small team of professional staff and students. Today LASP operates four NASA missions, including the Kepler Mission to find Earth-like planets around other stars, as well as 12 space science instruments. Bill Possel, the director of Mission Operations and Data Systems at LASP, will detail all aspects of mission operations, from how we communicate with spacecraft and satellites, to the unique way we train and involve students in these operations.

Watch this Public Lecture on YouTube

The Juno Mission to Jupiter: What’s Inside the Giant Planet?

The Juno Mission to Jupiter: What’s Inside the Giant Planet?
Speaker:   Dr. Fran Bagenal
Date:   February 8, 2012
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   LSTB-299, Auditorium
Abstract:  

NASA’s JUNO mission was launched in August 2011 and will go into orbit over Jupiter’s poles in about 5 years. JUNO carries instruments that will probe Jupiter’s deep interior and measure the amount of water—a key component of solar system evolution. JUNO is the first spacecraft to fly over Jupiter’s aurora and will measure both the energetic particles raining down on the planet and the bright “northern & southern lights” they excite.

Watch this Public Lecture on YouTube

All Mixed Up: Turbulence at the Heart of Nature

All Mixed Up: Turbulence at the Heart of Nature
Speaker:   Dr. Mark Rast
Date:   March 7, 2012
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   LSTB-299, Auditorium
Abstract:  

It is said that turbulence is the last important unsolved problem of classical physics. But what is the problem? Why is it so difficult to solve? And why work so hard to solve it? We will examine these questions by taking a tour of turbulent flows, ranging from those encountered everyday to those found in the far reaches of the universe. We will suggest that while advances in computational capabilities may in the next decades allow fundamental advances, understanding, not raw computer power, will remain the essential solution ingredient well into the foreseeable future.

Transits and Observations of Venus

Transits and Observations of Venus
Speaker:   Dr. Kevin McGouldrick
Date:   April 4, 2012
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   LSTB-299, Auditorium
Abstract:  

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain), born in 1835, a year in which the famed Comet Halley made a once every 76-year re-appearance in our skies, once remarked that he had come in with the comet, and would go out with it. A hundred years of improvement in health care and life expectancy later, children born this year may be able to say that they had come in with a transit and will go out with one. On June 5, 2012, for the last time in 105 years, until December of 2117, the planet Venus will pass directly between Earth and the Sun, in an event called a transit.

Watch this Public Lecture on YouTube

Solar Probe and the Solar Wind: The First Mission to our Nearest Star

Solar Probe and the Solar Wind: The First Mission to our Nearest Star
Speaker:   Dr. David Malaspina
Date:   May 2, 2012
Time:   7:30 PM; doors open at 7:00 PM
Location:   LSTB-299, Auditorium
Abstract:  

Scheduled to launch in July 2018, Solar Probe Plus is a unique and challenging mission that will send a spacecraft closer to the Sun than ever before with the goal of answering fundamental questions about how the Sun interacts with the solar system (The Big Questions). Dr. Malaspina will present the basics of the solar wind and discuss the The Big Questions that motivate Solar Probe Plus: What processes heat and accelerate the solar wind during its journey from the Sun to Earth’s orbit? What processes energize bursts of solar energetic particles, which are dangerous to both spacecraft and astronauts? What is the interplanetary dust environment close to the Sun? He will describe the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft, including its scientific instruments, challenges to its survival (including temperatures up to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit), and its orbit (including an explanation of the ‘Plus’). Finally, he will describe how measurements of electric and magnetic fields in the solar wind by Solar Probe Plus can help answer The Big Questions.

Watch this Public Lecture on YouTube

From Jars to the Stars: How Ball Came to Build a Comet Hunting Machine

From Jars to the Stars: How Ball Came to Build a Comet Hunting Machine
Speaker:   Todd Neff
Date:   January 26, 2011
Time:   7:30 p.m.
Location:   LSTB Auditorium, 299
Abstract:  

Join author Todd Neff as he delves into the history of the aerospace industry in Boulder County and in the US, told from the perspective of how Ball Aerospace Corporation came to be: from its humble University of Colorado beginnings to building a machine that could touch a comet. Todd will be available after the […]

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