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What’s for Lunch: 2017 Earth and Space Science Talks at the Library of Congress, Sponsored by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the ST&B Division

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Lecture series coordinators Sean Bryant and Stephanie Marcus, Science, Technology and Business Division, contributed to this blog post.

Keeping Up with Science
Keeping Up with Science

Spring has arrived, and with that, we are getting ready to kick off our annual Earth and Space Science lecture series, now in its eleventh year.  The series is a partnership between the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Science, Technology, and Business (ST&B) Division at the Library of Congress. Come learn about gamma-rays, the solar eclipse, neutron stars, Venus, and much more. If you are unable to attend in person, the lectures will later be broadcast on the library’s webcast page and YouTube channel “Topics in Science” playlist.

Save the date! Here is this year’s lineup:

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope: Opening a Window on the Extreme Universe.
Dr. Julie McEnery.
April 18th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope provides a dramatic view of the celestial sky. Fermi has revealed gigantic lobes of gamma-rays, uncovered scores of rapidly spinning super-dense stars, observed flashes heralding the birth of black holes and detected antimatter from thunderstorms on Earth. Join NASA astrophysicist Dr. Julie McEnery for a tour of the energetic Universe!

NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO): Preparing Astronauts for Space Exploration.
Dr. Kelsey Young.
May 4th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
Future generations of crewed planetary surface explorations will seek to develop an ever deeper understanding of the Solar System. New technologies will enable future crews to rapidly collect and interpret data, whether on the Moon, Mars, or an asteroid. Dr. Kelsey Young will return to discuss the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, NEEMO, a NASA mission that sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live and work in Aquarius, an undersea research station and an analog for space exploration.

The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA.
Dr. Alex Young.
June 15th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cut a 70-mile-wide path diagonally across the country from Oregon to South Carolina. For over two minutes, those in the path will experience an ethereal twilight with a naked-eye view of the sun’s million-degree atmosphere called the corona. Dr. Alex Young will return to the Library of Congress to outline the science and the wonder of total solar eclipses along with where and when you can experience the spectacle.

Venus—the Forgotten, Mysterious Planet.
Dr. Lori Glaze.
August 15th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
We know very little about the early history and evolution of Venus. While likely similar to Earth after formation, the two planets followed vastly different evolutionary pathways. Venus is a planet of extremes – it now hosts a runaway greenhouse atmosphere composed almost entirely of carbon dioxide, sulfuric acid clouds, and surface temperatures that can melt lead. Dr. Lori Glaze will explore what we know about Venus, what mysteries we need to solve, and what future spacecraft and instrument technologies could help us answer our questions.

Cassini’s Grand Finale.
Dr. Conor Nixon.
September 7th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, making unprecedented measurements of the planet, its rings and moons. Now in its final year, Cassini has begun close approaches to the outermost F-ring, investigating this ribbon-like structure before passing over Saturn’s poles, diving into the narrow gap between the planet and the innermost main rings for a direct “tasting” of the ring “rain” and finally plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere. Dr. Conor Nixon will cover the greatest highlights from Cassini’s early mission and the latest and most exciting results from the “Grand Finale” phase.

The Star That Ate Manhattan Could Guide Humanity Beyond the Solar System.
Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian.
October 17th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
Neutron stars are the lighthouses of the cosmos: city-sized stars that sweep beams of radiation through space. These pulsars are the strongest magnets known, with immense gravity and made of the densest stuff in the universe. NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) will place a telescope on the ISS to precisely time pulsations and measure X-ray emissions of pulsars and demonstrate a “Galactic Positioning System” using pulsars as beacons for navigation. Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian will describe NICER and the Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT) project.

“To explore strange new worlds…” NASA’s Small Steps and Giant Leaps in Understanding Worlds Beyond.
Dr. Padi Boyd.
November 2nd, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
Are we alone? Is our planet common, or a rare jewel in the Milky Way galaxy? The field of “exoplanets,” planets orbiting stars other than our Sun, is currently in a period of explosive growth, and in the last generation we’ve gone from knowing of only planets in our own solar system, to discovering thousands of distant worlds. In a few years, we may stand outside on a clear night, point to a star in the sky and say ”that one, there, has a planet like ours.” Dr. Padi Boyd will take a look at humanity¹s rapidly evolving view of Earth’s place in the Universe.

Holiday Light Show: Culture from Space.
Dr. Miguel Roman.
December 7th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
Patterns in nighttime light intensity change during major holiday seasons – Christmas and New Year’s in the United States and Ramadan in the Middle East. This tells us energy is providing services that enable social and cultural activities, and thus energy decision-making patterns reflect social and cultural identities. Dr. Miguel Roman will discuss the need to better understand the driving forces behind energy use, including how dominant social phenomena, the changing demographics of urban centers, and socio-cultural settings affect energy-use decisions.

Stay tuned for more details…

A full list of lectures sponsored by the ST&B Division is available on the Science References Services events web page. Please check this site for updates or changes. For inquiries about this lecture series, contact the Science, Technology & Business Division at: 202-707-1192. Individuals requiring accommodations for any of these events are asked to submit a request at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or [email protected].


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