Time and Place: March 3, 2015, 9:30---11:30, Earth Hall on the Fourth Floor of Jiuzhang Building, the National Space Science Center.
Lecturer: John W. Belcher, Massachusetts Institute of technology, USA
Still operational more than 35 years after launch in 1977, the Voyager 1 spacecraft is now travelling in interstellar space, beyond the outer limit of the sun’s influence. Voyager 2 is not far behind, but is still in the extended solar atmosphere, and is expected to enter into the interstellar medium in the next few years. We will talk about some of the history and engineering aspects of this remarkable spacecraft (its computers use plated wire memory!), and some of its past science highlights at the four outer planets. We also review what the transition from the extended solar atmosphere to the medium between the stars has looked like so far, and what we expect to learn when Voyager 2 crosses into interstellar space.
About the Lecturer:
Prof. Belcher’s research interests are within the field of space plasma physics, in particular, the interaction of the heliosphere with the local interstellar medium. He was the principal investigator for the Voyager Plasma Science Experiment during the Voyager Neptune Encounter---the end of the Grand Tour. He is now a co-investigator for the Plasma Science Experiment on board the Voyager Interstellar Mission. In addition, he has twice received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, once for his outstanding contribution to the understanding of the plasma dynamic of the Jovian magnetosphere, in 1980, and once for his role as principal investigator for the Plasma Science Experiment on Voyager during the Neptune encounter, in 1990.