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Presentations by Susan Benecchi in April

Susan is a postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the Planetary Science Institute. Her research focuses on the outer solar system.

Solar System Archaeology: What we Learn from Small Bodies in our Solar System

Department of Physics & Astronomy Colloquium -- Thursday, April 18, 4:00 pm, Jorgensen 136

Abstract: Since the discovery of the first Kuiper Belt object (KBO) in 1992 these objects have become key components to understanding the outer regions of our Solar System. Observations of both the dynamical and surface properties of these objects provide insight to the migration history of the giant planets. I will discuss various observational strategies for discovering and dynamically classifying KBOs and summarize our current understanding of the overall structure of the belt. Additionally, I will present the results from a compilation of studies on the colors (photometric properties), lightcurves and binary properties of sizable samples of KBOs in a variety of locations within the belt. Links between the dynamical and photometric properties of these objects may help to distinguish between various source populations and the range of conditions present in the protoplanetary disk. (flyer)

The New Horizons Mission: Pluto and Beyond

Free Public Talk -- Friday, April 19, 7:00 pm, Union Auditorium

Abstract: The outermost region of the Solar System has yet to be explored by spacecraft. Pluto sits inside of the Kuiper Belt, a region of icy objects in the outer solar system that we believe is a relic of the Solar System's formation and evolution. The New Horizons (NH) spacecraft launched in January 2006, and will fly through the Pluto system in July 2015. We hope to visit a Kuiper Belt Object (yet to be identified) afterward, in the 2018-2020 timeframe. Since launch an additional four moons have been discovered orbiting Pluto. Instruments on the spacecraft will study the surfaces of Pluto and Charon with optical broadband and multicolor images to resolutions of a few hundred meters, as well as near-infrared spectral maps with a few kilometer resolution sensitive to volatiles such as water ice, methane ice and ammonia. We will also collect UV spectra and particle data sensitive to active volatile loss. I will present an overview of what we know about the Pluto system currently, the goals of the NH mission and our efforts to find a Kuiper Belt Object to visit after the Pluto system encounter. (flyer)

Monday, March 25, 2013  —  Kevin