Alan Stern: The Exploration of Pluto

Alan Stern discusses the New Horizons flyby of Pluto in July 2015 and what ongoing analysis continues to reveal about this fascinating world.

In 2015, the NASA New Horizons mission conducted the extremely successful reconnaissance the Pluto system. Dr. Stern will summarize the results of this historic mission and show amazing photographs from the New Horizons Spacecraft. He’ll also place the historic nature of this reconnaissance of the farthest planet ever explored into context, and reveal several little known aspects of the mission and its payload. He’ll further provide a critique of the IAU’s planet definition and argue why Pluto is considered a planet by many planetary scientists, despite what non-planetary specialist astronomers voted in 2006.

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About Alan Stern

S. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, and author. In 2007 he was named to the Time 100 and was appointed NASA’s chief of all science missions. In 2007 and 2008, Dr. Stern served as NASA’s chief of space and Earth science programs, directing a $4.4 billion organization with 93 separate flight missions and a program of over 3,000 research grants.

Dr. Stern is the Principal Investigator (PI) of NASA’s $720M New Horizon’s Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission, the largest PI led space mission ever launched by NASA. New Horizons launched in 2006. Dr. Stern is also the PI of two instruments aboard New Horizons, the Alice UV spectrometer and the Ralph Visible Imager/IR Spectrometer. Before receiving his doctorate from the University of Colorado in 1989, Dr. Stern completed two master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and atmospheric sciences. Dr. Stern also holds two undergraduate degrees are in physics and astronomy from the University of Texas.

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