Montana State University

NASA team member to discuss Pluto and space exploration on Nov. 2

October 16, 2015 -- MSU News Service

Artist’s concept of the New Horizons spacecraft as it approaches Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in July 2015. A member of the New Horizons team, Andrew Chaikin, will speak in Bozeman on Nov. 2. Image courtesy of NASA.

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Last July, after a 9 1/2 year journey stretching more than three billion miles, a grand-piano-size spacecraft called New Horizons flew past Pluto, sending back the first close-up images of the small, mysterious world. The encounter captured headlines around the globe, with views of Pluto’s bizarre landscape alongside pictures of celebrating scientists and mission controllers.

One of the participants was space historian and author Andrew Chaikin, who will present a public talk at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, at the Museum of the Rockies.

In his talk, “Exploring the Solar System: To Pluto And Beyond!” Chaikin will share the latest reports from the mission to Pluto. The talk is free, although tickets are required.

The lecture is sponsored by Montana State University’s Extended University, MSU’s National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN), the Montana Space Grant Consortium and the Museum of the Rockies. Chaikin teaches an online course for MSU’s NTEN program on the history of spaceflight and space technology and is author of “A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts.”

During the lecture, he will present a guided tour of the past half-century of solar system exploration, through which we have seen the giant volcanoes, vast canyons and dry river valleys on Mars; the cracked, icy crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa, which probably conceals a global ocean of liquid water; tiny moonlets orbiting within the rings of Saturn; nitrogen geysers on Neptune’s moon Triton; and last, but certainly not least, mysterious Pluto, whose landscape has astonished and delighted scientists.

To receive free tickets for the event, visit http://eu.montana.edu/noncredit and select Exploring the Solar System: To Pluto and Beyond.

Chaikin is leading a workshop for teachers prior to the talk. For more information about the public lecture or teacher workshop, contact MSU Extended University at (406) 994-6683 or ExtendedU@montana.edu.

Contact: Nicole Soll, MSU Extended University, (406) 994-6683, nicole.soll1@montana.edu