Public Lecture

Public Lecture

Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Time: 20:00 – 21:30
Location: Civic Auditorium, Pasadena Convention Center

Supported by:


Mapping the Nearest Stars for Habitable Worlds

For thousands of years people have wondered, “Are there planets like Earth?” “Are such planets common?” “Do any have signs of life?” Today astronomers are poised to answer these ancient questions, having recently found thousands of planets that orbit nearby Sun-like stars, called “exoplanets”. Professor Sara Seager will share the latest advances in this revolutionary field.

Professor Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Sara Seager is a planetary scientist and astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has pioneered many research areas in the characterization of exoplanets. Her present research focus is on the search for life by way of exoplanet atmospheric “biosignature” gases. Professor Seager works on space missions for exoplanets including as: the PI of the CubeSat ASTERIA; the Deputy Science Director of the MIT-led NASA Explorer-class mission TESS; and as a lead of the Starshade Rendezvous Mission (a space-based direct imaging exoplanet discovery concept under technology development) to find a true Earth analog orbiting a Sun-like star. Among other accolades, Professor Seager was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2015, is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow.

Panel Discussion

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” will lead this panel discussion on Searching for life in the Solar System and Beyond! Panelist will include the following:

Professor Bethany Ehlmann, California Institute of Technology

Bethany Ehlmann is a professor of planetary science at Caltech and research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her research focuses on the mineralogy and chemistry of planetary surfaces, remote sensing techniques and instruments, astrobiology, and science policy and outreach. Her primary focus is unraveling Mars’ environmental history; she is a member of the science teams for the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), the CRISM imaging spectrometer on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. She is also on the Dawn orbiter team exploring the largest asteroid and dwarf planet Ceres and is working to propose mission concepts for Europa, Venus, the Mars moons, and Earth.

Dr. Kevin Peter Hand, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

Dr. Kevin Peter Hand is a planetary scientist and astrobiologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. His research focuses on the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the solar system, with an emphasis on ocean worlds of the outer solar system. He served as co-chair for NASA’s Europa Lander Science Definition team and he is the Project Scientist for the Pre-Phase-A Europa Lander mission concept. From 2011 to 2016 he served as Deputy Chief Scientist for Solar System Exploration at JPL.

Please note that Public Lecture is included in the assembly registration. Assembly attendees do not have to purchase tickets to attend this lecture. There is a minimal registration fee of US$5 is for members of the public who are not attending COSPAR Assembly.

Click here to Register for the Public Lecture

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