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Gerald Soffen Lecture Series: Dr. Tim Livengood - The Accidental Observatory

The Accidental Observatory

Dr. Tim Livengood Image courtesy Dr. Tim Livengood Come to the Visitor Center at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. to hear Goddard planetary astrophysicist Dr. Tim Livengood describe how scientists and engineers work together to add exciting tasks to spacecraft already in space. This installment of the Soffen Lecture Series is titled "The Accidental Observatory."

In 2005, NASA launched a daring spacecraft mission called Deep Impact. It was designed to accelerate into and impact a comet to blow out a plume of material. Studying this material would increase understanding of what comets are made from.

The Deep Impact spacecraft consisted of two parts, the impactor that was vaporized and the remaining flyby component that sailed into space, past the comet, collecting data along the way. After the remaining spacecraft gathered the information on the celestial object, the data-collecting spacecraft continued on its journey around the Sun. The journey continues.

NASA called on the scientific community to submit ideas for a new use of Deep Impact for research projects and scientific studies. The story that developed was one of how inventive scientists and engineers conceived a new life for a veteran spacecraft to explore our solar system and to chart a path towards someday exploring other solar systems. The spacecraft has looked at distant worlds. It has looked at comets. It has looked at Earth. And Deep Impact could do it all again. Come to the lecture on Thursday, December 8 to hear all of the details.

During his 30-year NASA career, Dr. Gerald Soffen (1926-2000) 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.

Doors open at 6:45 p.m. and the lecture will start promptly at 7 p.m. Space is limited. Please register in advance by using the form below. Directions to Goddard's Visitor Center can be found here.