[ASC-list] NSW: Public talk - New Horizons mission to Pluto

Lara Davis lara_davis4 at hotmail.com
Tue Oct 21 01:22:42 UTC 2008


Date: Thursday 13th November 
at 6.30pm
Venue: Slade Lecture Theatre, 
School of 
Physics, University of Sydney
Title: The New 
Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt
Presenter: Dr Alan Stern, Southwest 
Research Institute, Boulder, 
********* RSVP: 9351 3472 or outreach at physics.usyd.edu.au *********
Pluto - the planet that used to be. But does that 
matter? To the scientists behind NASA’s New Horizons mission, Pluto and its moon 
Charon hold unlocked secrets about ice dwarf planets, the least investigated but 
most common type of planet in our solar system.
Dr Alan Stern is the principal investigator of New 
Horizons, which hopes to find answers to basic questions about the surface 
properties, geology, interior makeup and atmosphere of Pluto and Charon. When 
New Horizons was launched in January 2006, it was travelling at 58,536 km/h, 
making it the fastest 
man-made object launched or created.
Last February it flew past Jupiter, and then Saturn's 
orbit on 8 June this 
year. It will arrive at Pluto in July 2015 before 
continuing into the Kuiper belt a 
billion kilometres beyond Neptune's 
To get to Pluto, which is three billion miles from 
Earth, in just nine and a half years, the spacecraft will travel at a velocity 
of about 43,450 kilometres per hour. The instruments on New Horizons will start 
taking data on Pluto and Charon months before it arrives. About three months 
from the closest approach - when Pluto and Charon are about 9.6 million km away 
- the instruments will take pictures and spectral measurements, and begin to 
make the first maps.
Dr Stern is visiting Australia to work with CSIRO and the 
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in preparation for New Horizon’s Pluto 
encounter. Come along and hear him talking about New Horizons and its exciting 
journey to Pluto. 
Dr Stern – 
Dr Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program 
executive, and author. Until recently he was Associate Administrator of NASA’s 
Space Mission Directorate. His research has focused on studies of our solar 
system's Kuiper belt and Oort cloud, comets, the satellites of the outer 
planets, Pluto, and the search for evidence of solar systems around other stars. 
In his 25 year career history he has been to numerous astronomical 
observatories, to the South Pole, and to the upper atmosphere aboard high 
performance military aircraft. In 2007, Stern was listed among Time 
Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The 
When not studying the skies, Dr. Stern writes, and goes 
hiking and camping. He and his wife Carole have two daughters and a son and they 
make their home in northern Virginia, outside 
Washington, D.C.

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