Wednesday, September 25, 2019,
The Arizona Senior Academy building
Asteroids, comets, meteors, moons – so many objects flying around us, “out there.” Marcia Neugebauer, Research Associate at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, plans an introductory review of just one of these: the one that has both captured attention and led to doomsday predictions.
“Asteroids 101,” as Neugebauer might calls it, will be an introduction for listeners who haven’t studied asteroids but are curious about current attention to these objects. Neugebauer will begin at the beginning by explaining what asteroids are, where they are located, how they relate to nearby objects, how asteroids have collided with Earth, and what asteroids mean today for people on earth.
Space missions have yielded insights about the character of the solar system. Some space missions have flown by selected asteroids, while still other missions have orbited asteroids, seeking data not available from a fly-by. Most recently, both Japan and the U.S. have mounted missions to land on an asteroid, sample its surface, and return the sample to Earth.
To round out her overview, Neugebauer will address current research on asteroids. While some of that research leads to hypotheses about the formation of the solar system, other programs investigate the potential for asteroid mining and still others focus on saving the Earth from the effects of an asteroid collision.
Marcia Neugebauer was working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the very start of the space age. After undergraduate work at Cornell and master’s work at the University of Illinois, both in physics, Marcia Neugebauer landed at JPL in 1956, and soon found herself in the newly formed NASA. After her work on other topics, the solar wind—the topic for which she is best known internationally—consumed her professional attention.
Written by Sarah Dinham, Academy Village Volunteer