KECK INSTITUTE FOR SPACE STUDIES

       

Robotics for Space Exploration - Challenge to the Moon and Beyond

November 8, 2016

Professor Yoshida has been working on a variety of robotics research topics with respect to the dynamics and control of space robotic systems. His interests range from orbital free-flying robots to planetary exploration rovers. The applications are extended to the development of university-based micro satellites and also the terrestrial applications of space technology, such as robotic remote exploration for search and rescue missions. The talk will highlight his current challenge toward the Google Lunar XPRIZE (team HAKUTO) and back ground technology on micro-rover development.

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Artificial Intelligence Support of Rosetta Orbiter Science Operations

November 2, 2016

On September 30th 2016, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission ended with the Rosetta Orbiter landing on the surface of the comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko. While it is well known that this historic mission was the first mission to deploy a soft lander to a comet (Philae) and to escort a comet for two years, it was also a pathfinding space mission from the perspective of Operations and Computer Science in its usage of the Artificial Intelligence planning and scheduling software for early to mid-range science activity scheduling and data downlink scheduling. Come hear about the Rosetta mission: science, operations, and the use of Artificial Intelligence to support Rosetta Orbiter operations.

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Operational Thoughts on Data Driven Decision Making

October 5, 2016

Based on experiences gained training for spaceflight and supporting operations onboard the International Space Station, considerations for the implementation of robotically enhanced exploration will be discussed in the context of several operational environments: piloting jet aircraft; conducting routine operations onboard the International Space Station, and the execution of extravehicular activity (EVA).

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Climate Change Impact on Past Civilizations: Lessons from Space Data and Archaeology

May 24th, 2016

NASA and other remote sensing data from spacecraft and aircraft have contributed significantly to archaeological research. This work has included locating the lost “city” of Ubar in present day Oman, study of Native American sites on San Clemente Island off the California coast, to detection of disturbance of the Nazca lines in present day Peru. One factor emerging from this body of work is that past civilizations were significantly influenced by even minor climatic events.

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Building the First Spaceport in Low Earth Orbit

January 13, 2016

The construction of the Gateway will be humankind's most ambitious endeavor in space. A new kind of construction - a new way of thinking about building things - will be required to build what is, essentially, a city in space. To construct a massive spaceport like the Gateway would take a generation if we didn't use construction techniques like those used in modern shipbuilding and automobile factories.

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Light, Atomic Clocks, and Testing Einstein’s Assumptions

November 4, 2015

The Optical Frequency Comb technology exploded in 1999-2000 from the synthesis of advances in independent fields of Laser Stabilization, UltraFast Lasers, and NonLinear Optical Fibers, enabling a thousand-fold advance in optical frequency measurement, and searches (in the 17th digit) for time-variation of physical "constants". Several Optical Frequency Standards now have far better performance than the well-established Cs clock that defines Time in the SI (Metric System) measurement system. But adopting a new “Atomic Clock” to “tick out the Seconds” will be daunting - in many ways.

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Profits in the Final Frontier: Entrepreneurial Pursuits in Space

October 27, 2015

Tethers Unlimited, Planet Labs, and Planetary Resources, who represent the entire spectrum of space startups, will join Professor Sergio Pellegrino to discuss what is needed to succeed as a space company. Topics to explore include risks and rewards within each category, how to work with minimal existing infrastructure, and how to secure funding when the average return on investment timeline is much longer than for a typical startup.

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Looking for Life As (we think) We Know It: Enceladus and Europa

September 16, 2015

As the Keck Institute for Space Studies workshop this week considers life in exotic non aqueous environments, two bodies in the outer solar system (Enceladus and Europa) host oceans of salty liquid water that are accessible, or potentially so, to spacecraft measurements. A Europa mission has just begun development and has substantial capabilities to assess ocean habitability. Enceladus appears to have a habitable ocean based on Cassini measurements, but confirmation and search for life will require a follow-on mission... one such mission has been proposed under the Discovery program.

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Tyranny of the Rocket Equation

August 27, 2015

The rocket equation, a simple momentum balance that defines the performance of a rocket, holds a tyrannical grip on the design of these machines. From this equation it becomes apparent that the giant leap for mankind was not the first step on the Moon but attaining Earth orbit. A rocket ready to launch into earth orbit is 85 to 90 percent propellant and less than 2 percent useful payload. Humanity may visit other planetary surfaces but will never have thriving outposts if the paradigm of taking everything from planet Earth is kept. One possible way to break this tyranny is to use planetary resources at location for the materials needed by the hundreds of metric tons. These materials derive their utility from their bulk chemical composition or mechanical properties (rocket fuel, life support, construction materials like bricks and cement). The need to find new places to live and resources to use will eventually beckon humanity off the planet.

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The Implications of U.S. Space Policy Choices

August 18, 2015

In recent years, US global influence has been diminished by removal of the Moon as a focus for near-term human space exploration efforts, a failure to engage international partners in concrete plans for exploration after the International Space Station, and a slow response to increasing threats posed by Russian and Chinese military space capabilities. A more effective integration of national security and civil space interests in support of US foreign policy objectives would enable new opportunities for the United States and its allies. In shaping the international environment for space activities, exploration, scientific, commercial, and security efforts, can be used to complement each other to build a more secure, stable, and prosperous, world.

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Fire and Ice: Exploring Volcanoes on Earth and the Solar System

May 14th, 2015

The planets and moons of the Solar System are incredibly diverse worlds with histories both ancient and dramatic. Etched into their surfaces is a fascinating story – of fire and ice, of order and upheaval, of great cataclysms and slow change. Volcanoes are common throughout the Solar System and volcanic eruptions are among nature's most awesome spectacles. On Earth, we see that eruptions can range from gentle, beautiful outpourings of lava to catastrophic explosive events that can kill thousands. As we explore volcanoes on Earth and other worlds, we find a wide variety of landscapes—even ice volcanoes! We will tour different volcanoes on Earth and the Solar System, emphasizing how they have affected our scientific thinking, art, and culture.

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Richard Nixon and the American Space Program

May 6, 2015

On July 20, 1969, U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong took “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The success of the Apollo 11 mission satisfied the goal that had been set by President John F. Kennedy just over eight years earlier--“before this decade is out, landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” It also raised the question “What do you do next, after landing on the Moon?” It fell to President Richard M. Nixon to answer this question. The talk will trace in detail how Nixon and his associates went about developing their response, reducing the priority of the NASA space program, thereby ending human space exploration and then approving the space shuttle.

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Mars Helicopter Scout

April 1, 2015

The Mars Helicopter Scout is a current proposal to demonstrate helicopter flight at Mars on the Mars 2020 mission.The Mars Helicopter Scout will scout ahead of a planetary surface rover to provide high-resolution aerial images of the terrain for science and operational purposes. This talk will describe the scope of the Mars Helicopter Scout proposal, the signficant science and operational benefits of a helicopter in planetary surface exploration, and the technical design overview of Mars Helicopter Scout.

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An Interstellar Conversation

September 9, 2014

Ed Stone led the first science mission into the interstellar medium when Voyager 1 passed through the heliopause some 120 AU from the Sun into a region whose composition was dominated by particles from distant stars. This is humankind's first interstellar probe -- but it is only a tiny step in that direction. Can we go further, faster? What are the key scientific investigations to be made in interstellar space? Are there more distant milestones in the interstellar medium to strive as next steps toward interstellar flight? Joining Ed to discuss what's out there will be Freeman Dyson, whose creative thinking about interstellar flight and astrophysics has stimulated two generations of space explorers and former Astronaut Mae Jemison who leads the 100 Year Starship organization creating new projects for Earth and space based on ideas of interstellar flight.

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Near-Earth Asteroids: Stepping Stones to an Interplanetary Civilization

August 12, 2014

Human and robotic exploration of space beyond low Earth orbit has emphasized the Moon and Mars. But another class of target, the near-Earth asteroids, may be even more important to explore and understand in the immediate future. Unlike the Moon and Mars, asteroids occasionally collide with the Earth, posing a real threat to life and property, as demonstrated by the 2013 airburst over Chelyabinsk, Russia. But asteroid impacts are unique among natural disasters in that judicious application of feasible search and deflection technologies may be able to prevent them. Near-Earth asteroids are also interesting from a scientific perspective, offering insight into the origin and evolution of the Earth and other planets. Finally, private industry has recently begun to recognize the potential value of near-Earth asteroids as sources of metals, oxygen, water, and rocket propellant that are unconstrained by the expense of launch from Earth. Exciting new mission opportunities, including the Asteroid Redirect Mission currently under study at JPL, will pave the way for human and robotic exploration, manipulation, and utilization of these fascinating objects.

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Optical Remote Sensing of Earth and Planetary Surfaces

June 17, 2014

The development of space observation techniques and of user friendly software to process and handle those observations has opened a new era in geology and planetary sciences. The first global imaging systems made it possible to scan wide areas and search for promising sites for field investigations, or to get the contextual information needed to interpret local observations. As the resolution, whether spatial or spectral, and geometric accuracy improved, it became possible to make actual measurements and eventually monitor Earth surface changes. These possibilities offered new ways to investigate the geological processes at play in the landscape evolution on Earth and other planets. New opportunities are emerging, such as staring systems in particular, which will allow investigating processes and surface characteristics that cannot be observed with present systems. Rapid surface motions, such as from seismic waves, are one example.

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New Frontiers of Planetary Seismology

June 3, 2014

About 45 years ago and some time as a by product of the cold war, seismology started its escape from Earth, with not only the first successful installation of a seismometer on the Moon by the Apollo missions but also with the first observations of seismic waves in the ionosphere, 250 km or more above Earth surface. Our journey to today’s research at these frontiers of seismology will start with the Moon and the 40 years old Apollo data and will then move to Mars and finally Venus.

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The Long Space Age: An Economic History of American Space Exploration

May 27, 2014

Over the last half-century there has been a rapid expansion in goods and services that involve, in some part of their production process, physical infrastructure located off of the surface of the Earth. We are engaging in economic development off of our home planet. The economic development of the solar system presently extends to around 36,000 kilometers from Earth. There, nations and corporations have placed hundreds of satellites that provide billions of dollars worth of communications and meteorological services. Closer in, within a few thousands and hundreds of kilometers from the Earth, hundreds of satellites provide a wide variety of scientific, global positioning, and commercial services, while construction has been completed on humanity’s ninth and largest space station. On the planet itself, government agencies, corporations and individuals plan for the expansion of economic development to the lunar surface, the asteroids, and Mars.

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The Past, Present and Future of Understanding Earthquakes Using Space Observations

April 14, 2014

On January 17, 1994 at 4:31 in the morning, the M 6.7 Northridge earthquake abruptly shook Los Angeles. Though this earthquake was not the "Big One" its 10-20 seconds of shaking killed 57 people and caused over $20 billion in damage. The earthquake was the culmination of years of accumulated strain, the last portion of which was measured using survey grade Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. Dr. Donnellan will address the contributions of the Southern California Integrated GPS Network (SCIGN), Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), an airborne platform called UAVSAR, and modeling tools to understanding earthquakes using space and airborne observations. Future measurements and missions should provide unprecedented details of earthquake fault behavior and interactions, which can be used to address our exposure to these disastrous events.

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The Future of Human Spaceflight

April 8, 2014

In the 42 years since the last Apollo mission, humans have not flown beyond low Earth orbit. The capability to go back to or even beyond the Moon does not yet exist. President Obama adopted the flexible path proposed by the 2009 (Augustine) Committee to Review U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans by proposing NASA plan a series of steps into the Solar System - reaching a near-Earth asteroid by 2025, the vicinity of Mars in the 2030s and landing on Mars in the early 2040s.

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Exploring Mission Concepts with the JPL Innovation Foundry A-Team

January 15, 2014

The JPL Innovation Foundry has established a new approach for exploring, developing, and evaluating early concepts called the A-Team. The A-Team combines innovative collaborative methods with subject matter expertise and analysis tools to help mature mission concepts. Science, implementation, and programmatic elements are all considered during an A-Team study.

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Theodore von Kármán and Rocketry at Caltech

November 12, 2013

The year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Theodore von Kármán's death. Born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary in 1881, von Kármán emigrated to the United States in 1930, joining the faculty of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at Caltech, where he remained until 1944. He then gradually moved to Washington, DC., to head the Air Force's Scientific Advisory Group. He was ultimately awarded the first Medal of Science by President Kennedy in 1963 and was the first director of JPL. In this talk, the story of von Kármán's life in aeronautics, engineering, and science, will be revealed - with a particular focus on his role in founding JPL.

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How to Select a Landing Site on Mars

July 8, 2013

Surface characteristics at the seven sites where spacecraft have successfully landed on Mars can be related favorably to their signatures in remotely sensed data from orbit and from the Earth. Comparisons of the rock abundance, types and coverage of soils (and their physical properties), thermal inertia, albedo, and topographic slope all agree with orbital remote sensing estimates and show that the materials at the landing sites can be used as “ground truth” for the materials that make up most of the equatorial and mid-latitude regions of Mars. The seven landing sites sample two of the three dominant global thermal inertia and albedo units that cover ~80% of the surface of Mars. The Viking Landers 1 and 2, Spirit, Mars Pathfinder, Phoenix and Curiosity landing sites are representative of the moderate to high thermal inertia and intermediate to high albedo unit that is dominated by crusty, cloddy and blocky soils (duricrust) with various abundances of rocks and bright dust. The Opportunity landing site is representative of the moderate to high thermal inertia and low albedo surface unit that is relatively dust free and composed of dark eolian sand and/or increased abundance of rocks. The third global unit has very low thermal inertia and very high albedo, indicating it is dominated by meter thick deposits of bright red atmospheric dust that may be neither load bearing nor trafficable. The landers have thus sampled the majority of likely safe and trafficable surfaces that cover most of Mars and shown that remote sensing data can be used to infer the surface characteristics, slopes, and surface materials present at other locations.

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Unraveling the Mysteries of Titan Using Lab on a Chip

June 19, 2013

Titan, the moon of Saturn with a thick atmosphere and liquid hydrocarbon lakes, is considered the best target in the solar system for the study of organic chemistry on a planetary scale. Solar radiation and energetic particles activate methane and nitrogen in the atmosphere of Titan, which react to form complex organic aerosols. Dr. Cable will describe how we can use lab on a chip technologies to tease apart these complex organic mixtures and identify key species. This work represents a significant first step in understanding Titan aerosols from a chemistry perspective, and can aid atmospheric models of this intriguing moon.

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Airships: A New Horizon for Science

May 2, 2013

Over the last decade, a few commercial telecommunication ventures as well as several well-funded military programs have attempted to develop autonomous, solar powered, high-altitude light-than-air (LTA) vehicles known as airships, which could maneuver and station-keep for weeks, months, or even years.

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John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon

March 12, 2013

Based on his award-winning 2010 book "John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon," Dr. John Logsdon will review the factors that led President John F. Kennedy, just four months after his inauguration, on May 25, 1961, to set as a national goal sending Americans to the Moon "before this decade is out." He will explore JFK's actions and second thoughts following that Cold War decision during the remaining thirty months of his presidency. Dr. Logsdon will address the question: "Was Apollo worth its costs and risks?" He will also relate the experience and evaluation of Apollo to current controversies regarding the character of future U.S. space efforts.

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Exploring Mars, the Moon, Asteroids, and Comets with Rovers and Landers

February 20, 2013

The exploration of our solar system over the past half century has been dominated by robotic flyby and orbital missions. Recently, however, NASA and other space agencies have been transitioning into an era of even deeper exploration, using robotic rovers and landers sent down to the surfaces of many of these worlds. Among the most successful and popular of these have been the recent Mars rover and lander missions -- Mars Pathfinder, Spirit, Opportunity, Phoenix, and now Curiosity. Plans are also in the works for new Mars landers and rovers, as well as new landers and rovers to explore in more detail the surfaces of the Moon as well as of small primitive bodies like asteroids and comets.

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Science and the New Space Race: Opportunities and Obstacles

January 10, 2013

NASA's Herculean feats of engineering, science, and exploration have been celebrated for over half a century, but a paradigm shift is underway. Private corporations have ambitious agendas for orbital payload delivery and astronaut transport, space tourism, and even interplanetary travel. SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft has successfully docked with the International Space Station; Virgin Galactic is selling tickets for flights in SpaceShipTwo and has unveiled LauncherOne, its small satellite launch system; and the share of space technologies developed and built in the private sphere continues to increase as both old and new companies ramp up their space efforts. Space agencies around the world, including in the United States, are increasing their reliance on these services to reduce costs and avoid long development cycles. What is the impact on the space, planetary, and earth sciences? Will these developments affect our ability to implement a broad, coherent space program that successfully tackles a wide array of ambitious scientific goals? How does this new landscape change the dynamics of international collaboration, public-private partnerships, intellectual property, and how will we strike a balance between scientific inquiry and the bottom line? Join us for a discussion of these issues with an internationally renowned panel of scientists, industry executives, and policy experts.

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Venus: Earth's Evil Twin or Just Misunderstood?

November 5, 2012

Venus is the second rock from the sun, and the planet most like Earth in terms of size and bulk composition. Yet the clouds contain sulfuric acid, the surface pressure is 100 times that of Earth's, and the surface temperature is 460° C, thanks in large part to the runaway greenhouse. Further, Venus has no plate tectonics, the system of moving plates that shapes Earth's geology. How did Venus end up so different from Earth today given its similar birth position in the solar disk? Volatiles and volcanism are keys to understanding Venus' history. Water, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide are key greenhouse gasses, and are released into the atmosphere from the interior when volcanoes erupt. But the volcanic history is controversial. Was resurfacing of the entire surface a rapid event, followed by little activity, or has it been more steady and more Earth-like? A discovery of geologically recent volcanism has reopened this debate and provided new insights into the sources of volcanism. Several volcanic locations previously identified as hotspots (areas where hot mantle plumes create volcanism, like Hawaii) show signs of recent volcanism. What does this tell us about how active Venus is today? Just how Earth-like is Venus?

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CubeSat: An Unlikely Success Story

October 30, 2012

CubeSat has become the de facto standard for small satellite development. These miniature spacecraft (smaller than a loaf of bread) are the choice for student satellites worldwide and are becoming a serious option for many missions being developed by traditional space organizations, from NASA and JPL to the Air Force and NSF. However, 10 years ago, when the CubeSat standard was developed by a Stanford-Cal Poly team success was not guaranteed. In the talk, we will look back at the development of the CubeSat standard over the years. We will explore some of the challenges facing the development team and try to identify some of the key factors leading to the standard's success. These lessons learned translate well to other innovative projects and may help support an environment that fosters innovation and out-of-the box thinking.

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Quantum Experiments in Space - From Quantum Technology to Quantum Foundations

June 27, 2012

Satellite-based platforms offer unique opportunities for quantum science. On the one hand, they provide global coverage for quantum communication, for example quantum cryptography links between arbitrary nodes. On the other hand, the possibility to combine low temperature and low pressure in a sustained micro-gravity environment makes space an unmatched ‘laboratory’ for new fundamental tests on the foundations of quantum physics. Professor Aspelmeyer will discuss the perspectives for bringing quantum experiments into space and report on the status of some of the ongoing projects around the world. Surprisingly, many available quantum technologies are already compatible with the requirements for space missions.

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Landing on Mars (do not try this at home)

April 11, 2012

Mars Science Laboratory's (MSL) Curiosity Rover is set to land on Mars on the evening of August 5, 2012. At nearly a metric ton, this rover is the largest single visitor to the red planet. MSL is the most recent, and perhaps the most ambitious mission in a series of missions that have been targeted to the surface of Mars since the early 1970's. About half of those missions made it to Mars safely. Rob Manning will discuss the history and the trajectory of Mars entry, descent and landing design and how the MSL project overcame some very difficult challenges.

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Exploring Protoplanets Through the Dawn Mission

May 2, 2012

The Dawn spacecraft reached Vesta, the second most massive asteroid in the main belt, in July of 2011, and has since returned a wealth of remarkable scientific findings. These have included the confirmation of Vesta as the parent body of a common class of meteorites (the Howardite-Eucrite-Diogenites), evidence for a substantial iron core, an impact record consistent with recent dynamical models driven by giant planet migration, and intriguing brightness and compositional variations. Vesta's nature is transitional between an asteroid and a planet, and represents one of the oldest intact planetary building blocks from the beginning of the solar system. Dawn's novel ion-propulsion system allows the spacecraft to travel further and orbit the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015.

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Science in Cyberspace

December 13, 2011

Science, scholarship, and education are being transformed by the advances in computation and information technology. Much of the scholarly work, including data, tools for their exploration and theoretical modeling, literature, and collaboration tools, are now moving to virtual environments. The exponential growth of data volumes, and the simultaneous increase in the data complexity offer both new scientific opportunities and new challenges for knowledge discovery in massive and complex data sets and data streams. We are now developing new methodologies for the scientific research in the 21st century.

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Photons to Bits and Beyond: The Science and Technology of Digital Image Sensors

November 11, 2011

Digital cameras are now small and everywhere, from cell phones to iPads to webcams to pill cameras to automobiles to digital SLRs to Mars Rovers. The images from these cameras shape our culture on a daily basis, from Facebook and Skype to unforgettable images of the Japanese tsunami and the Arab Spring. This presentation will address the science and engineering technology behind capturing these images, as well as a brief history of how this technology transferred from the lab at JPL into your cell phone. Future technology directions including the Quanta Image Sensor (QIS) will be discussed.

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Moving An Asteroid

September 28, 2011

The Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) and The Planetary Society present a public event examining novel ideas for capturing and moving a small Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) closer to Earth. Come learn why these Near-Earth Asteroids are interesting and important objects to explore.

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Many Suns, Many Worlds: The Galactic Quest for Exoplanets

October 4, 2010

Worlds like "Hot Jupiters" and "Super Earths" don't exist in our own solar system, but have been found in our very own galaxy. Astronomers have confirmed that 490 planets (and counting!) have been discovered outside our solar system. There may be billions of these "exoplanets" inhabiting the Milky Way alone. What do these discoveries, if anything, tell us about our place in the universe?

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Modern Methods of Observing Earthquakes: What We Have Learned about Haiti and Chile using Seismology and Space Observations

March 30, 2010

This public lecture provided an overview of the results obtained from analyzing the information gathered on the recent earthquakes which struck Haiti (January 12, Mw 7.0) and Chile (February 27, Mw 8.8). We discussed what has been learned on those earthquakes from seismology, observations made from satellite systems and field observations. We also discussed how space techniques could in the future improve earthquakes monitoring and help mitigate their effects.

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Seismology of the Sun and Stars

March 17, 2010

The origin of the magnetic field in cool stars with convective envelopes, such as the Sun, is not understood. Forthcoming observations of solar and stellar oscillations may provide the information that is required to constrain models of the dynamo. Professor Gizon will show how the solar interior can be imaged in three dimensions to infer flow velocities, structural inhomogeneities, and the magnetic field. In the near future, the seismology of solar-type stars of different ages, masses, and rotation periods should reveal crucial relationships between stellar internal properties (rotation, convection) and activity cycles. To give a taste of the possibilities in a Sun-like star observed by CoRot.

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Fossil Fuel Treaty Monitoring: Mission Impossible?

March 2, 2010

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (2009) tackled the challenge of designing and implementing a global agreement for control of greenhouse gas emissions. The meeting floundered, in part, due to a seemingly mundane technical challenge: If treaties to controls on carbon emissions are adopted, how would compliance be monitored?

Given the large the global emissions of fossil fuel, why is it such a challenge to know how much each country is emitting?

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Titan: A Strange Yet Familiar New World

May 26, 2010

The Cassini mission to Titan has unveiled a world that experiences surface temperatures about 200 degrees colder than Earth's, receives 100 times less sunlight, where hydrocarbon molecules rain from the sky and water ice is as hard as rock. But for all of its strange thermophysical and chemical state, Titan exhibits landforms remarkably familiar to our own: extensive dunes in the dry regions, braided channel networks draining from mountains to large basins, and perhaps most astonishingly, large seas and lakes in the high latitudes filled with liquid methane and ethane. Professor Ahronson will review the discoveries of the recent flybys of Titan with a focus on what has been learned about its lakes, their seasonal evolution, and the hypothesis that they undergo periodic change over tens of thousands of years, analogous to (Croll) Milankovitch climate cycles on Earth.

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Single Photon Detectors - from A to B (from Astronomy to Biology, and Beyond)

January 26, 2010

Professor Daniel Prober describes the development and uses of single photon detectors, covering photon energies from MeV to meV, and wavelengths from 1 picometer to 1 mm. The developments have been driven by many applications, drawn from astronomy, biology, communications, and materials analysis. Intended for a general scientific audience, Professor Prober presents a selection of these developments and applications.

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The Human and Scientific Tale of Galileo

November 19, 2009

Prof. Righini, an astronomer with the university of Firenze and a lifelong scholar and admirer of Galileo, recently authored the book Galileo: among science, faith and politics, from which he has developed a lecture The human and Scientific tale of Galileo, presented to the Italian audiences. An English version was developed specifically for this event. The lecture presented a portrait that spans the scientific accomplishments of an exceptional scientist to the personal limitations and flaws of a man, brings him to life and makes him endearing to us all for his extraordinary humanity and courage in standing by reason in the face of persecution.

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The MSU Debate, Climate Auditing, and the Freedom of Information Act

September 3, 2009

Since the late 1960s, scientists have performed experiments in which computer models of the climate system are run with human-caused increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs). These experiments consistently showed that increases in atmospheric concentrations of GHGs should lead to pronounced warming, both at the Earth's surface and in the troposphere. The models also predicted that in the tropics, the warming of the troposphere should be larger than the warming of the surface.

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The Darkest Galaxies

July 22, 2009

In the past three years, fourteen Milky Way satellite galaxies have been discovered, more than doubling the known population. These newly discovered "ultra-faint" galaxies have emerged as the least luminous and most dark matter-dominated galaxies in the known Universe. They are dramatically reshaping our understanding of galaxy formation and may hold the keys to deciphering the nature of dark matter. Professor Marla Geha reviewed our current understanding of the ultra-faint galaxies, focusing on the constraints these objects provide on dark matter.

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