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Alan Stern | New Horizons: Mission to Pluto and What Planethood Really Means | NEAF Talks

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Published on May 17, 2015

Filmed April 2014

The NASA New Horizons mission will conduct the first reconnaissance of the Pluto system in 2015, culminating with a closest approach on 14 July 2015. Dr. Stern will summarize the mission’s history, objectives, capabilities, and encounter plans. 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 close with 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.

Who is Alan Stern?
DR. 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 $4.4B 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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