Public Talk

The Exploration of Pluto by New Horizons

November 16, 2017

When: November 16, 2017 7:00PM
Where: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara

Alan Stern


New Horizons is NASA’s mission to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. After a dramatic, 26-year effort to develop and fly the mission, New Horizons made the first exploration of Pluto and its moons in July of 2015. I will recount the history of the mission, review its historic encounter with planet Pluto, discuss the major scientific discoveries made to date, speak to the viral public reaction to this exploration, and outline the mission’s future plans for its extended mission to explore the Kuiper Belt and its next flyby in January of 2019.

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Alan Stern

We are very excited to have Dr. Alan Stern speaking at our upcoming event!  Dr. Stern has been involved in many space missions over the course of his career, the most recent of which is the New Horizons mission that flew past Pluto in July 2015 for which he is the Principal Investigator. Dr. Stern's research has focused on studies of our Solar System's Kuiper belt and Oort Cloud, the satellites of the outer planets, comets, Pluto, and the search for planets around other stars. He has also worked on the theory of spacecraft rendevous, mesospheric clouds on the terrestrial planets, galactic astrophysics, and studies of tenuous satellite atmospheres, including the atmosphere of the Moon. Throughout his career, Dr. Stern has helped to develop several scientific instruments for space-based satellite missions, particularly those that observe ultraviolet light. These instruments include those onboard the ESA/NASA Rosetta mission to comet 67P/C-G and the Mars Express satellite as well as the SWUIS ultraviolet imager, which has flown two Shuttle missions and was used to observe comet Hale-Bopp, the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, and a search for Vulcanoids (asteroids between the Sun and Mercury). Dr. Stern served as NASA's Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, a position that essentially made him NASA's top-ranking official for science, from 2007-2008, during which time a record 10 major new flight projects were started. In 2007, Stern was listed among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.

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