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Public Invited to Free Lecture at NASA Goddard: Investigating Worlds Around Other Stars
05.01.12
 
Photo of Dr. Avi Mandell› Larger image
Avi Mandell in action, explaining about exoplanets. Credit: Avi Mandell

Dr. Mandell observes exoplanets as they pass in front and behind their parent star, using multiwavelength observations to probe the composition and structure of the planets' atmospheres.› Larger image
Dr. Mandell observes exoplanets as they pass in front and behind their parent star, using multi-wavelength observations to probe the composition and structure of the planets' atmospheres. Molecular absorption in the atmosphere of a planet provides both a measuring stick for how abundant that molecule is, but also allows determination of the temperature of the atmosphere at different altitudes. Credit: NASA

Dr. Mandell develops computer simulations of the accretion of small bodies into full sized rocky planets, in order to understand the evolution of planetary systems from dusty disks into multiplanet systems like our own.› Larger image
Dr. Mandell develops computer simulations of the accretion of small bodies into full-sized rocky planets, in order to understand the evolution of planetary systems from dusty disks into multi-planet systems like our own. Credit: NASA
GREENBELT, Md. -- The public is invited to a free talk called "Investigating Worlds Around Other Stars: Progress Towards the Discovery of Another Earth," by Dr. Avi M. Mandell, a NASA research scientist in the Planetary Systems Laboratory at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

The talk is part of the Gerald Soffen Lecture Series and will be held at the Visitor's Center at NASA Goddard on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 7 p.m. EDT (doors open at 6:45 p.m.). The free talk is about one hour and will be accompanied by satellite image and end with a question and answer session. Registration is requested on-line at http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/visitor/events/vc-lecture-mandell.html. Pre-registration will be open until Tuesday, May 8 at 5 p.m. EDT.

"In this talk I will describe the exciting journey from the discovery of first planet orbiting a sun-like star up through our current efforts to tease out the atmospheric structure and composition of the exotic menagerie of planets discovered to date," Mandell said. "We are now in a new era of precision measurements of the size and orbital motion of giant planets around other stars, and our discoveries continue to defy expectations."

Mandell will talk about next-generation space-based telescopes, such as the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, and ground-based telescopes almost half as large as a football field. These extremely sensitive observatories will allow detection and remote exploration of planets as small as Earth. "Join me as I map out the path that may eventually lead humankind to the first discovery of a habitable planet beyond the oasis of our own planetary system," Mandell said.

Dr. Avi M. Mandell was first drawn to the study of extrasolar planets through his graduate work in the field of astrobiology, or the study of evolution and distribution of life in the universe. His research interests also encompass the formation and evolution of planetary systems, and he has developed both modeling and observational techniques to study protoplanetary disks and planets at infrared wavelengths. He has also published several articles in popular astronomy magazines.

The Gerald Soffen lecture series is dedicated to Dr. Gerald Soffen (1926-2000) who led the science team for NASA's Viking program, was Director of Life Sciences at NASA Headquarters, Project scientist for NASA's Earth Observing System, and created NASA Academy, NASA's premiere leadership training internship. The Viking 2 lander was posthumously named after Dr. Soffen and a crater on Mars was named "Soffen." He was best known, however, for his passion for inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is physically located at 8800 Greenbelt Rd., Greenbelt, Md., 20771. The Goddard Visitor Center is located off ICESat Road (formerly Soil Conservation Road). Once on ICESat Road, turn left into the Visitor Center prior to the security checkpoint. Visitors are still welcome to attend without pre-registration, but please note that attendees who have submitted pre-registration forms will have priority for seating, and that overflow seating may be required to accommodate all guests.

Related Links:

› Online registration
› Directions to the Visitor's Center from DC or Baltimore
› Info about Dr. Avi Mandell
 
 
Goddard Release No. 12-039

Rob Gutro
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
robert.j.gutro@nasa.gov
301-286-4044