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Public Talk

Asteroids and Comets: Keeping an Eye on Things that Go Bump in the Night

May 17, 2017

When: May 17, 2017 7:00PM
Where: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara

Amy Mainzer


The region near Earth is filled with remnants leftover from the solar system's formation long ago: asteroids and comets. Work is ongoing to catalog and track Earth-approaching objects, and to understand the frequency and energy with which they can potentially impact Earth. Much progress has been made in recent years, resulting in the discovery of the majority of near-Earth objects large enough to cause global devastation. However, more work remains to be done, as the majority of asteroids and comets large enough to cause severe regional damage have yet to be found. The process of searching for and characterizing Earth-approaching objects also teaches us about the rest of the asteroid and comet populations throughout the solar system, helping us understand its assembly and evolution.

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Amy Mainzer

We are pleased that Dr. Amy Mainzer will be speaking at our event in May!  Dr. Mainzer is the Principal Investigator of NEOWISE, a mission studying asteroids and comets using the reactivated Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite and run from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. She is also the Principal Investigator of Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam), a proposed NASA Discovery mission selected for extended Phase A study in January 2017. In 2012, Dr. Mainzer was awarded the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal. Her research interests include asteroids, brown dwarfs, planetary atmospheres, debris disks, star formation, and the design and construction of new ground- and space-based instrumentation. Dr. Mainzer has appeared a number of times in the History Channel series The Universe and events hosted by NASA TV.

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