Exploring New Horizons: NASA's Epic Voyage to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt

Public talks

Tags: New Horizons, Solar System, Planetary Exploration, Pluto

Time: Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019 -

Location: Palo Alto, CA

Community Tuesdays with Dr. Mark Showalter

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft left Earth in 2006 on its journey to Pluto and beyond. The flyby of Pluto in 2015 revealed an unimagined world of frozen planes, ice volcanoes and glaciers made of frozen nitrogen. Afterward, the spacecraft journeyed onward into the Kuiper Belt, the Solar System's "freezer chest" of small bodies left over from the time when the Solar System formed. On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day 2019, the New Horizons spacecraft completed its mission by providing humanity's first closeup look at a small body in the Kuiper Belt, revealing what these cold and distant worlds look like for the first time. Mark Showalter is a member of the New Horizons science team. He will recount the inside story of the mission and show the latest images from the outer reaches of our solar system.

SETI Institute astronomer Dr. Mark Showalter studies the dynamics of rings and small moons in the Solar System. Known for his persistence in planetary image analysis, Mark's early work with Voyager data led to the discoveries of Jupiter's faint, outer "gossamer" rings and Saturn's tiny ring-moon, Pan. Starting in 2003, his work with the Hubble Space Telescope led to the discoveries of "Mab" and "Cupid," small moons of Uranus now named after characters from Shakespeare's plays. His work also revealed two faint outer rings of dust encircling the planet. In 2011, Mark initiated a Hubble-observing program focused on Pluto, which led to the discoveries of two tiny moons. Their names, "Kerberos" and "Styx," were selected through an international naming campaign. More recently, Mark discovered the 14th known moon of Neptune. He is a co-investigator on NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn and its New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond.

Note: Ticket purchase is required at the door

For more information, visit https://www.paloaltojcc.org/Events/exploring-new-horizons-nasas-epic-voyage-to-pluto-and-the-kuiper-belt