Frontiers Lecture: Pluto: Glaciers, Mountains and Dunes, Oh My!

Part of Frontiers Lectures

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Aerial view of ice plains on the left and rocky highlands on the lower right. This enhanced color view from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft zooms in on the southeastern portion of Pluto's great ice plains, where at lower right the plains border rugged, dark highlands informally named Krun Macula.
Courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
As scientists continue to study data from NASA’s New Horizons mission, they are discovering features on Pluto that are surprisingly similar to those on Earth.

Join New Horizons science team members Cathy Olkin and John Spencer for an up-close investigation of these Earth-like features: Plutonian glaciers, mountains, dunes, landslides, and more.
The Museum’s Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart will pilot us through these features in OpenSpace, revealing an updated and more nuanced picture of Pluto, its moons, and the outskirts of our solar system.

Meet the Presenters

Cathy Olkin is a planetary scientist with interests in icy outer solar system worlds. Olkin is the deputy principal investigator for NASA’s Lucy mission and the lead for the Ralph instrument on NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. She uses near-infrared spectroscopy to study icy surfaces and stellar occultations to investigate tenuous atmospheres.

John Spencer is an Institute Scientist at Southwest Research Institute's Department of Space Studies in Boulder, Colorado. He is a science team member on the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and a deputy project scientist for its extended mission into the Kuiper belt, for which he coordinated the successful search for Kuiper Belt object (KBO) flyby targets beyond Pluto.  He also led the search by New Horizons, during Pluto approach, for potential debris hazards in the Pluto system, and led the planning of the successful 2019 flyby of the small KBO 2014 MU69. He is also a co-investigator, and instrument scientist for the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), on the Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids.

In 2020, the Museum is celebrating the legacy of Charles Hayden, whose vision made the Hayden Planetarium possible and brought the universe to New York City.


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Support for Hayden Planetarium Programs is provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Endowment Fund.