It will be an out-of-this-world experience at the InfoAge Center in Wall Sun., Aug. 28 – literally a unique presentation about two first-time journeys into deep space.
Frank O’Brien, a volunteer historian for NASA, will give a presentation about NASA’s New Horizons space probe journey to Pluto and its Dawn mission to Ceres.
“The New Horizon’s journey to Pluto and Dawn’s mission to Ceres explored those ancient worlds. They found unexpected vistas, from frozen oceans of nitrogen to mountains of salt. These discoveries help confirm that the early solar system was a chaotic place with planets shifting positions and constant bombardment by meteors. Our talk will focus on that early evolution and what has been learned from our first visits to two dwarf planets,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien’s presentation, “Pluto and Ceres- A Tale of Two (Dwarf) Planets,” will be given from 2 to 4 p.m. at the InfoAge Space Exploration Center (ISEC) at 2300 Marconi Road in Wall.
“In the last year, NASA spacecraft have journeyed to Pluto and Ceres, returning pictures and science that give us new insights on how the solar system was formed,” O’Brien said.
New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA’s New Frontiers program on Jan. 19, 2006. The spacecraft has the primary mission to perform a flyby study of the Pluto system and a secondary mission to fly by other nearby objects.
Dawn is a space probe launched in Sept. 2007 with the mission of studying two of the three known protoplanets of the asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres. It is currently in orbit about the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn is the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial bodies, the first spacecraft to visit either Vesta or Ceres, and also the first to visit a dwarf planet, arriving at Ceres in March 2015, a few months before New Horizons flew by Pluto in July 2015.
Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter- the largest minor planet within Neptune’s orbit. Ceres is estimated to comprise approximately one third of the mass of the entire asteroid belt and is the only object in the asteroid belt known to be rounded by its own gravity.
The presentation is part of InfoAge’s history, education and public outreach efforts. In 2012, O’Brien became a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lectures on a wide range of space topics and volunteers at InfoAge.