Cline Observatory 2015 Fall Astronomy Day Lecture
The MESSENGER Spacecraft Mission to Mercury: Surprises from the Innermost Planet
A free public lecture by Dr. Sean Solomon, Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute, and Principle Investigator for the Mercury MESSENGER Mission
Friday, 2 October 2015, 7:30 p.m.,
Koury Auditorium, GTCC, Jamestown
Cline Observatory will be open after the talk, weather permitting
Cold and distant Pluto has stolen the Solar System headlines in recent weeks, but another NASA mission recently completed our first-ever global exploration of the closest planet to the sun, Mercury. Join us as the scientist in charge of this mission shares the discoveries from the innermost planet.
Sean Solomon is the Director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the largest of the research centers in Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Prior to arriving at Columbia, in July 2012, Solomon served for 19 years as Director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington, D.C., where his research focused on planetary geology and geophysics, seismology, marine geophysics, and geodynamics. From 1972 to 1992, Solomon was a member of the faculty of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has led or been involved in oceanographic expeditions on Earth as well as spacecraft missions to the Moon, Venus, Mars, and Mercury. From 1996 to 1998, he was President of the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest organization of Earth and space scientists.
He is a graduate of the California Institute of Technology (1966) and MIT (Ph.D., 1971).
Solomon is the Principal Investigator for NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft was inserted into orbit about Mercury in March 2011 after traveling for nearly seven years through the inner solar system, and it continuously mapped the planet’s surface, interior, and environment from shortly after arrival until the end of orbital operations in April 2015. From 1998 to 2008, Solomon served on the Executive Council of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, which seeks to understand how life on Earth arose and its potential to exist elsewhere. Solomon is a Co-Investigator on NASA’s GRAIL mission to the Moon, which launched in 2011 and mapped the Moon’s gravitational field in unprecedented detail. From 1982 to 2005, he was a Co-Investigator on both the Magellan mission to Venus and the Mars Global Surveyor mission.
Solomon is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his awards are the Geological Society of America’s G. K. Gilbert Award for solving broad problems in planetary geology, and the American Geophysical Union’s Harry H. Hess Medal, given for outstanding research on the evolution of Earth and other planets. In 2011, when he stepped down as a director at Carnegie, colleagues arranged to have a previously discovered asteroid named after Solomon. Asteroid 25137 Seansolomon, about a mile and half wide, is currently orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. Last year, Solomon was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Obama.
Solomon was born and raised in Los Angeles and now lives in New York City. He and his wife Pamela have four children and eight grandchildren.
Fall Astronomy Day Lecture Directions
If you have any questions please contact Tom English – 336-334-4822 x50023
The Cline Observatory Astronomy Day Lecture is held each fall, featuring a prominent researcher in astronomy, astrophysics, or planetary science. Follow this link to see a list of Past Lecturers.
North Carolina Astronomers’ Meeting (NCAM)
Cline Observatory also hosts the annual technical meeting of NC astronomers in association with Fall Astronomy Day. This event is open to professional astronomers and their students. This year’s edition of NCAM will be held on Saturday, 3 October 2015.