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Gerald Soffen Lecture Series: Dr. Michelle Thaller - The Dark Universe

The Dark Universe

Dr. Michelle Thaller Image courtesy Dr. Michelle Thaller Come to the Visitor Center at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, at 7 p.m., to hear the next installment of the Soffen Lecture Series, titled "The Dark Universe."

Just how crazy can astronomers be if they want us to believe that all the stars, planets and galaxies we know of make up less than 4 percent of what’s really out there? Most of the matter in the universe is in a form that we can’t even touch, taste, or smell. The only reason we know it’s there is the force of gravity. And when you take the entire energy content of the universe into account, it gets even weirder. Fully 75 percent of everything may be the mysterious “dark energy” that is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate. Join us in exploring just how things got so weird, and what observations required astronomers to completely re-think the make-up of the universe. What’s next for our view of the universe? It’s getting darker all the time.

Dr. Michelle Thaller is the assistant director of science for communications at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Specializing on the lifecycles of stars, she has been an observer on the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the ROSAT X-ray satellite, and the International Ultraviolet Explorer, as well as many ground-based observatories such as Mount Palomar, Kitt Peak, and Mount Stromlo, Australia. In her current role, Michelle represents all of NASA’s science themes, from Earth science, the sun and space weather, solar system exploration, all the way out to cosmology and the deep universe.

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.

Pre-registration for the Gerald Soffen Lecture Series is now closed. Visitors are still welcome to attend without pre-registration. 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..