17 May 2016, Tuesday, 7:45 PM, Presidio Observation Post, Building 211
“The New Horizons Flyby of Pluto: An Insider’s View”
Mark Showalter, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, SETI Institute
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft passed through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015 sending back our first closeup views of that distant, mysterious world and its retinue of moons. The spacecraft executed its observing sequence flawlessly, and the images are still being slowly downlinked back to Earth. The images have already revealed a remarkable landscape containing including broad plains, mountain ranges several km high, and evidence for volcanoes. The planet is enshrouded by a thin, blue atmosphere. Pluto’s four small moon are spinning wildly, for reasons not currently understood. Mark Showalter, a member of the New Horizons science team, will recount the inside story of the historic flyby and discuss the latest scientific results.
Dr. Mark Showalter, a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, studies the dynamics of rings and small moons in the Solar System. His investigations using Voyager data and the Hubble Space Telescope have led to the discoveries of six planetary moons: Pan at Saturn, Mab and Cupid at Uranus, Kerberos and Styx at Pluto, and an as yet unnamed moon of Neptune. He is a co-investigator on NASA’s New Horizons mission and has been deeply involved in the search for small moons and faint rings.
PLEASE NOTE: The Presidio printed brochure incorrectly states that the May lecture will be held at the Presidio Officers Club. The May lecture will be held at our normal location at the Presidio Observation Post.