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What’s for Lunch: 2018 Earth and Space Science Talks at the Library of Congress, Sponsored by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the ST&B Division

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

With March just around the corner, we are preparing to kick off our annual Earth and Space Science lecture series, now in its twelfth 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 space telescopes, Martian lakes, eclipses, Polar Regions, 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:

How did we get here?  Finding Our Origins with the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes
Dr. Jonathan Gardner
Thursday, March 22nd, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
Using a flood of data from the Hubble Space Telescope, other missions, telescope observations and super-computer simulations, we are starting to piece together the story of how simple particles, mass and energy that formed in the Big Bang changed over time to become galaxies, stars and planets today.  Dr. Jonathan Gardner will discuss some of the most important astronomical discoveries of the last 20 years, the Hubble Telescope’s greatest accomplishments, and the promise of its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope.

Swimming in Martian Lakes: Curiosity at Gale Crater
Dr. Scott Guzewich
Wednesday, April 25th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
As primitive life was becoming established on Earth, Gale Crater on Mars was a shallow lake filled with drinkable water and brimming with all of the chemical ingredients necessary for life to form.  For the past 5 years, we’ve been exploring the remnants of this lake with the Curiosity rover.  For the first time in the history of space exploration, we are directly studying an environment that was once habitable for life as we know it.  The story of Gale Crater tells us how Mars has changed and whether life may be common in the universe.

Watching Water: New Approaches to Assessing and Managing Global Water Security and Sustainability
Dr. John Bolten
Tuesday, May 15th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
The combined stresses of overpopulation, water pollution, and poor water management practices require new approaches to better assess and manage global water security and sustainability. Dr. John Bolten will review the technological advances in satellite-based remote sensing and numerical modeling of reservoir volume, vegetation health, groundwater movement, soil moisture, and other factors that drive these new approaches and discuss how the data are being applied to address these global issues. 

Titan – An Exotic Ocean World Waiting to Be Explored
Dr. Melissa Trainer
Thursday, June 7th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
Following decades observing Saturn’s moon Titan, we have discovered that Titan has all the ingredients needed to produce “life as we know it.” Advanced chemical synthesis takes place in its atmosphere and a subsurface ocean and icy crust provide opportunities for all of these ingredients to mix. This talk will review what we know about prebiotic chemistry on Titan and explore ideal locales and exploration strategies to search for evidence of, or progression towards, life on Titan.

Shadow Science: Using Eclipses to Shed New Light on Heavenly Bodies
Dr. James L. Green
Wednesday, September 12th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
Eclipses are the “obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another between it and the observer…,” and nearly the same definition describes occultations and transits. These phenomena create shadows that are regularly observed. But these shadows also allow scientists to do amazing new things, from finding new rings at Saturn to new planets orbiting other far away stars. Dr. James Green will discuss how we continue to use shadow techniques to uncover new science and will provide spectacular examples from recent events.

GRACE-FO and ICESat-2: NASA’s Leadership in Monitoring the Polar Regions from Space
Dr. Thorsten Markus
Thursday, November 8th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
From 2003 until 2009, NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) mission measured rapid changes in glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice, and, until late last year the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission maintained a watch on mass distribution around the planet, tracking significant loss in ice covered regions. These rapid ongoing changes in the Earth’s ice cover will require sustained, high accuracy, repeat observations in order to continue collecting critical data. In 2018, NASA will launch GRACE-FO, a follow-on mission, and ICESat-2, an improved ICESat. Dr. Thorsten Markus will explain why the Polar Regions are so important for the global climate system and what satellites like GRACE-FO and ICESat-2 will contribute to our understanding of them.

The Science of Space: Heliophysics and the Parker Solar Probe
Dr. C. Alex Young
Thursday, December 6th, 11:30am-12:30pm, Mary Pickford Theater.
NASA studies the Sun and how its constant outflow of magnetic fields and solar material influences the very nature of space, the atmospheres of planets, and human technology. Heliophysics missions explore places never before visited—traveling through pockets of intense radiation, interstellar space, and right into the Sun itself. This summer NASA will launch the Parker Solar Probe, which will be the first spacecraft in history to fly through the Sun’s inner corona. Dr. Alex Young will return to take a journey through the solar system, discussing how the Sun interacts at the largest and smallest scales, from complicated motions at the particle level to giant eruptions thousands of times bigger than the Earth.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Marcus at [email protected], Sean Bryant, at [email protected], or call the Science, Technology and Business Division at (202) 707-1212. Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or [email protected]


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