March 19, 2018 (REVISED May 7, 2018) 2018 Earth and Space Science Talks at the Library of Congress

Library to Host NASA Goddard Flight 12th Annual Lecture Series

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Public Contact: Stephanie Marcus (202) 707-1192
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This week, the Library of Congress will kick off the annual Earth and Space Science lecture series, now in its twelfth year.  The series is presented in partnership with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Science, Technology, and Business Division at the Library of Congress.

The first lecture of the series will be held on Thursday, March 22 featuring Dr. Jonathan Gardener, deputy senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope and chief of the Laboratory for Observational Cosmology in the Astrophysics Science Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

All of the lectures are free and open to the public. The lectures are held at 11:30 a.m. in the Mary Pickford Theater of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at @librarycongress and #TopicsInScience. The currently scheduled lectures are:

Thursday, March 22
“How did we get here?  Finding Our Origins with the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes”
Dr. Jonathan Gardner, deputy senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope and chief of the Laboratory for Observational Cosmology in the Astrophysics Science Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope, space missions, telescope observations and super-computer simulations, the science community is starting to piece together the story of how simple particles, mass and energy that formed in the Big Bang changed over time to become the galaxies, stars and planets of 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.

Wednesday, April 25
“Swimming in Martian Lakes: Curiosity at Gale Crater”
Dr. Scott Guzewich, research astrophysicist, Planetary Systems Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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, NASA has been exploring the remnants of this lake with the Curiosity rover.  For the first time in the history of space exploration, NASA is directly studying an environment that was once habitable for life as we know it.  Dr. Scott Guzewich shares on the story of Gale Crater and how it can tell us how Mars has changed and whether life may be common in the universe.  

Tuesday, May 15
“Watching Water: New Approaches to Assessing and Managing Global Water Security and Sustainability”
Dr. John Bolten, associate program manager of Water Resources for the NASA Applied Sciences Program at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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.

 Thursday, June 7
"The Upper 
Atmosphere: Where Space Weather Meets Earth Weather"
Dr. Sarah Jones, research astrophysicist, Space Weather Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

At the boundary between Earth and space, charged particles and fields co-exist with Earth's neutral atmosphere and cause a continual tug of war between the neutral and ionized gases. Events like hurricanes create waves that can travel up to this region, while the Sun frequently releases blasts of solar material to impact it. This changes the shape of the boundary between Earth and space and can garble signals being transmitted from satellites. Dr. Sarah Jones will help untangle the processes at play in this region and share how two of NASA's newest missions, GOLD (Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk) and ICON (Ionospheric Connections Explorer), aim to determine just how weather shapes our interface to space.

Thursday, June 7- RESCHEDULED to Thursday, October 11
“Titan – An Exotic Ocean World Waiting to Be Explored”
Dr. Melissa Trainer, research space scientist, Planetary Explorations Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Following decades observing Saturn’s moon Titan, NASA scientist 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. Dr. Melissa Trainer 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. 

Wednesday, September 12
“Shadow Science: Using Eclipses to Shed New Light on Heavenly Bodies”
Dr. James L. Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters

Eclipses are defined by the Oxford Dictionary as 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.

Thursday, November 8
“GRACE-FO and ICESat-2: NASA’s Leadership in Monitoring the Polar Regions from Space”
Dr. Thorsten Markus, chief, Cryospheric Sciences Lab and the Project Scientist for the ICESat-2 mission at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

From 2003 until 2009, NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) mission measured rapid changes in glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice. 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.

Thursday, December 6
“The Science of Space: Heliophysics and the Parker Solar Probe” Dr. C. Alex Young, associate director for science, heliophysics science division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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 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.

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PR 18-030
ISSN 0731-3527