Breaking the Seeing Barrier for Planetary Astronomy


Tuesday, August 27 2013 - 7:00 pm, PDT
Franck Marchis
SETI Institute

planets When Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope toward Jupiter in 1609 and discovered what we now call the Galilean moons, he did not realized that he had just established a new research field in astronomy. In the past four centuries, planetary astronomy, the study of our solar system bodies using telescopes, has increased our knowledge of the environment of Earth, the evolution of the planets, the origin of comets and asteroids and the formation of our solar system. Space exploration accelerated planetary astronomy in the 1960s by allowing planetary scientists to access in-situ and detailed data.


In this talk, I will discuss the contributions of telescopic observation over the past 50 years to planetary science, particularly the recent developments like adaptive optics which renewed interest in ground-based observations of planets.

I will explore the contribution of all-sky surveys like Pan-STARRS and LSST, which provide several terabytes of data a week, changing radically the way we do astronomy. Looking to the future of space-based astronomy, I will consider whether the James Webb Space Telescope and ATLAST are potential successors to the successful Hubble Space Telescope. Finally I'll explore the way in which specialized low-cost telescopes designed to search and study exoplanets, planets around other stars, constitutes a paradigm shift in our field.

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