SETI Institute Weekly Colloquium - Upcoming Speakers

Tuesday, May 26 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Giant planet interiors studied with ab initio computer simulations

Burkhard Militzer

Dr. Militzer will briefly review the interior structure of different types of planets and discuss how it is affected by the miscibility of various planetary materials. Results from recent ab initiocomputer simulations will be presented that focus on the miscibility properties of four systems: hydrogen-helium mixtures in gas giant planets, hydrogen-water mixtures in ice giants, silicate-iron mixtures in the interiors of terrestrial planets.

Finally Dr. Militzer will discuss his recent model of Jupiter’s interior that he and his team are putting together before NASA’s Juno spacecraft inserts into orbit about this planet next year.

Eventbrite - Giant Planet Interiors Studied with ab initio computer simulations

Tuesday, June 02 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Atmospheric Tides and the Diurnal Cycle on Earth and Other Planets

Curt Covey
Lawrence Livermore Lab

The latest standardized database of Earth climate model output features 24 high-time-frequency fields including surface pressure, allowing for the first time a direct global comparison of simulations and surface observations of atmospheric tides. The comparison reveals surprising agreement, raising the possibility of models "getting the right answer for the wrong reasons" and leading to general considerations of middle atmosphere phenomena on Earth and other worlds, e.g. superrotation on Venus and Titan. Also, since Earth atmospheric tides contribute to near-surface processes like the sea breeze, our studies lead naturally to inspection of the diurnal cycle of precipitation and the boundary layer.

Eventbrite - Atmospheric Tides and the Diurnal Cycle on Earth and Other Planets

Tuesday, June 09 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Do WIMPs rule? The LUX and LZ Experiments and the Search for Cosmic Dark Matter

Dan Akerib
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Dark Matter remains a profound mystery at the intersection of particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. One of the leading candidates, the Weakly Interacting Massive Particle, or WIMP, may be detectable using terrestrial particle detectors. Recent technological advances are enabling very rapid increases in sensitivity in the search for these particles. I will talk about the LUX experiment, a liquid xenon time projection chamber, which currently holds the best upper limit over much of the WIMP mass range. I will also discuss plans for a larger follow up experiment, LZ, which will just begin to measure a background neutrino signal that will set a fundamental limit our ability to search for WIMP dark matter.

Eventbrite - Do WIMPs rule? The LUX and LZ Experiments and the Search for Cosmic Dark Matter

Tuesday, June 16 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Ultra-lightweight Probes to Catalyze Interstellar Exploration

Jon Rather

Based on present space science and engineering, interstellar travel remains highly unlikely. Applying synergistic emerging technologies to enhance capabilities for accelerated space development in the solar system may catalyze possible steps to the stars. A stepwise sequence of plausible projects will be proposed. The remarkable present progress in diverse applied sciences can be a game changer.

Eventbrite - Ultra-lightweight Probes to Catalyze Interstellar Exploration

Tuesday, June 30 2015 - 12:00 pm, PDT

Asteroid Day Special Event

Michael Busch and Peter Jenniskens
SETI Institute

To celebrate 'Astreoid Day', the SETI Institute is holding a special event where two SETI asteroid scientists will give short presentations on the latest thinking on how to handle the Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) problem and the goals of NASA's Asteroid Return Mission (ARM). Michael Busch will give a talk on the properties of target NEAs and Peter Jenniskens will give a talk on a new concept (SHEPHERD) for the Asteroid Return mission.

Characterizing Target Asteroids for ARM with Michael Busch
ARM would go to a near-Earth asteroid, pick up a large block or boulder, and return it to Earth-Moon space. Based on ground-based and spacecraft observations, the ARM team has identified four candidate asteroids: 2008 EV5, Bennu, Itokawa, and 1999 JU3. I'll review what we currently know about these objects and how we've learned it.

The SHEPHERD Asteroid Return Mission with Peter Jenniskens
The current ARM is focussed on collecting a boulder from a large asteroid, in part because small free-floating asteroids are hard to characterize in advance well enough to give engineers certainty that they can handle the rock. Future asteroid utilization missions will face the same issue. Now, Peter Jenniskens, working with Bruce Damer, Stuart Pilorz, Julian Nott, and other colleagues, has proposed a way to get around that difficulty, and in the process they created a new vision for future space exploration.

Eventbrite - Asteroid Day Special Event