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Emily Outen
Project Scientist to Speak on NASA's MESSENGER Mission

HAMPTON, Va. -- Although Mercury is the smallest planet, NASA has much to discover on the world nearest the sun. Ralph McNutt, a physicist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for over 15 years, is working on a project that is advancing NASA's understanding of the innermost planet.

MESSENGER, the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft, will be the first probe to orbit the planet Mercury in March 2011. In January of this year, NASA reached a milestone in the endeavor by successfully completing the first of three Mercury flybys.

McNutt will speak on the results of this flyby in a colloquium lecture called "Mercury In a New Light: The First MESSENGER Flyby" on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 2 p.m. in the Reid Conference Center at NASA Langley.

Media who wish to interview McNutt at a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday should contact Emily Outen at 864-7022 or at by noon for credentials and entry to NASA Langley.

McNutt is a project scientist and a co-investigator on NASA's MESSENGER mission to Mercury. Prior to his position at the Applied Physics Laboratory, McNutt held positions at Visidyne, Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) and Sandia National Laboratories. He received a bachelor's degree in physics from Texas A&M and his doctorate in physics from M.I.T. McNutt is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, the British Interplanetary Society, the American Astronomical Society, the American Geophysical Union, Sigma Xi, the Planetary Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

McNutt will speak on the subject again at a free lecture for the general public Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Air & Space Center on Settlers Landing Road in Hampton.

For more information on NASA Langley's Colloquium and Sigma Series lectures, visit:


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