Outer Planets

Very Long Term Planning: Integrating Planetary Protection in Human Missions

Despite decades of experience with human missions in low Earth orbit (LEO), we have only scant, outdated information applicable to human missions to planetary surfaces, where contamination concerns and planetary protection requirements raise unusual challenges.   It has been over 40 years since the Apollo program dealt with the challenges of humans living, exploring and returning from the  surfaces of celestial bodies.  Join us for a forward looking discussion on how changes in science, technology and policies are impacting future human exploration plans.

Direct imaging of extrasolar planets and the discovery of a young Jupiter

Be among the first to learn about an exciting new exoplanet discovery—a Jupiter-like planet called “51 Eri b” that orbits a star a 100 light years away in the constellation of Eridanus.

Shape dynamics: a relational view of the Universe

Shape Dynamics is a new theory of gravity which removes the notion of local relativistic time from the guiding principles of gravity in the universe. It is a very promising approach which has been shown to be equivalent to Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, without being embedded in time. It is inspired by adherence to Mach's Principle, which is violated by Einstein's theory.

Shape Dynamics provides new tools in the quest for a theory that describes quantum gravity. 

Kepler’s Heartbeat Stars: When Binary Stars Get Funky

Because of the continuous, high-precision photometry available from the Kepler spacecraft, the Kepler team discovered a type of eccentric binary star named heartbeat stars. In these systems, the two stars come close enough to each other to cause large, periodic changes in the tidal deformation and mutual irradiation of the stars. 

Completing the Census of Exoplanetary Systems with Microlensing

Measurements of the demographics of exoplanets over a range of planet and

host star properties provide fundamental empirical constraints on theories of planet formation and evolution.  Because of its unique sensitivity to low-mass, long-period, and free-floating planets, microlensing is an essential complement to our arsenal of planet detection methods. 

Planet Occurrence Rates with Kepler: Reaching Towards the Habitable Zone

Dr. Burke will discuss latest results in measuring terrestrial planet occurrence rates using the planet candidates discovered by the Kepler pipeline.

For the first time an accurate model for the Kepler pipeline sensitivity to transiting planets is publicly available. Dr. Burke's new analysis finds higher planet occurrence rates and a steeper increase in planet occurrence ratestoward small planets than previously believed.

Titan's Oceans observed by CASSINI Radar

What do we know about the composition, surface, depth and distribution of liquid on Saturn's largest moon, Titan? 

Stanford University's Howard Zbker uncovers some of the mysteries of Titan's lakes by analyzing data from the Cassini altimeter and radiometer.

Gamma Ray Bursts and Recent Results from the Fermi Mission

Dr. Michelson is the Principal Investigator of the Large Area Telescope on the Fermi Observatory.

The Large Area Telescope (LAT) on the Fermi Observatory scans the entire sky once every three hours.  It has revealed many types of high-energy sources including gamma-ray bursts, many types of pulsars, active galaxies, and binary systems.

In this talk Dr. Michelson will give an overview of Fermi’s discoveries and offer speculation of what might be found next, including possible sources of gravitational radiation.

Pluto, the Kuiper belt and the early history of the solar system

Our understanding of the formation of the solar system has undergone a revolution in recent years, owing to new theoretical insights into the origin of Pluto and the discovery of the Kuiper belt and its complex dynamical structure.  The emerging picture is one of dramatic orbital migration of the planets in the early history of the solar system, driven by interaction with the primordial Kuiper belt, which produced the final solar system architecture that we live in today.  The evidence is all over the solar system, as close as the Moon and as far away as Pluto and the remnant Kuiper belt. 

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