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Public Talk

Throwing DART(s) at Asteroids: NASA's First Planetary Defense Mission

September 13, 2022

When: September 13, 2022 7:00PM
Where: The New Vic Theater, 33 West Victoria Street, Santa Barbara

Dr. Tim Lister

Las Cumbres Observatory

On Sept. 26 2022, NASA will intentionally smash the DART spacecraft into an asteroid as humanity’s first test mission for planetary defense. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft’s collision with its target asteroid, which poses no threat to Earth, will change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be measured using ground-based telescopes, including those of Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO). The test will show that a spacecraft can navigate itself to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it, providing valuable data to help us better prepare for a future asteroid that might pose an impact hazard to the Earth, should we someday discover one.

In this public talk, Dr. Tim Lister, DART Investigation Team member and LCO astronomer, will describe near-Earth asteroids, impact hazards, and what the DART mission will do to prepare for potentially deflecting asteroids in the future.

Las Cumbres Observatory is pleased to present a series of free public talks featuring leading scientists speaking about exciting new discoveries in astronomy.

Everyone is welcome to these events.


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Dr. Tim Lister
Dr. Tim Lister

Tim Lister hails from the city of Manchester in the UK and obtained a MSci and a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of St. Andrews in 1997 and 2000 respectively.Following his PhD he worked as a Linux sysadmin in the Astronomy Group and then joined the SuperWASP Project as a postdoc. During that time he substantially contributed to the development of the pipelines and data reduction systems which finally culminated in the first WASP extrasolar planet in 2006. Since then the SuperWASP project and instruments have gone on to discover over forty extrasolar planets making it one of the most successful planet search programs.

In 2006, Tim moved to the Keele Astrophysics Group  to work on setting up SuperWASP-South which would search for planets in the southern hemisphere from SAAO in South Africa. Tim joined LCO as a Project Scientist/Astronomer and moved out to sunny Santa Barbara in Feb. 2007. While at LCO he is involved with developing the pipeline and archives which will handle the data coming from LCO's many telescopes and continues to do research on extrasolar planets, magnetic activity on binary stars and Solar System objects.

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