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Center for Astrophysics Research and Technologies Seminar Series Information


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From the beginning of time to the center of the Earth: How robotic exploration shapes our view of the solar system

Thursday November 21, 2019
5:00 pm

 Presenter:  Thomas Prettyman
NASA Mission Planetary Scientist 
 Series:  Sigma Xi Public Talk
 Abstract:  This talk will highlight results from Dawn, which recently completed its 11-year voyage through the main asteroid belt, and prospects for Psyche, which will launch in 2022. Dawn transformed Vesta and Ceres from fuzzy patches of light as viewed by Earth-based telescopes into complex, geologic worlds. The data provide new insights into processes that occurred during the solar system’s earliest epoch. Vesta and Ceres are largely intact protoplanets, representative of the building blocks of the terrestrial planets. In contrast, Psyche was thoroughly disrupted by collisions and is likely the exposed core of an igneous planetesimal. As such, the data acquired by the Psyche mission will complement efforts to understand terrestrial cores through laboratory experiments and meteorite studies. The architecture and enabling technology of the Dawn and Psyche missions are very similar. These are modern examples of robot explorers, which over the past 60 years have opened up new vistas on strange, new worlds, enhancing our understanding of solar system formation and evolution. 
 Host:  Harjit Ahluwalia
 Location:  Room C, UNM Conference Center

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