The CASSINI Huygens Spacecraft reveals Titan's surface (special colloquium)

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Date/Time:Friday, 11 Feb 2011 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Location:Physics, Room 5
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Peter Smith (Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory)

Titan, Saturn's largest, cloud‐shrouded moon, has now been examined from orbit for 6 years. In addition, a probe was dropped to the surface in January 2005. This lecture will present an overview of the knowledge gained and the understanding that has evolved about the secrets of the Titan surface environment. The possibility that lifeforms can find sanctuary on Titan despite being 10x further from the Sun than Earth and, therefore, extremely cold will be addressed.

Short bio:

Peter Smith, professor at Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, was named the first Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair in Integrative Science. He was recently awarded the American Geographical Society's prestigious Cullum Geographical Medal.
A member of the laboratory since 1978, he has participated in many of NASA's space missions, beginning with the Pioneer Venus mission and later the Pioneer Saturn project, which studied outer-planet atmospheres, particularly for Jupiter and Titan. His association with Mars began in 1993 when NASA accepted his camera proposal for the Pathfinder mission. In 1997 the camera returned images from the Martian surface and monitored the forays of the Sojourner Rover. More recently he was principal investigator of the Phoenix mission, which landed a spacecraft on Mars in the spring of 2008 and whose cameras have relayed more than 25,000 pictures. During the five months of operations, the probe conducted science experiments as part of NASA's search for life in the solar system. The major results have been published in Science as four articles; nearly 20 additional articles are being published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets.