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RASC-Vancouver Paul Sykes Memorial Lecture with William J. Borucki, NASA/Ames

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Vancouver Centre will host its annual Paul Sykes Memorial lecture on Saturday February 1, from 8:00PM-9:30PM, at Simon Fraser University, in Saywell Hall Room 10081.

Click here for directions, including a campus map, to the nearest parking, bus stop, and to the venue.

The lecture is open to the public. 

For RASC Vancouver Members only: Please note that there will be a Meet & Greet (with refreshments) with our speaker before the lecture, from 6:00PM-7:30PM, in the Saywell Hall atrium, directions given in the link above.

When: Saturday February 1, 8:00PM-9:30PM.

Where: SFU Saywell Hall Room 10081 (see link above for directions).

Speaker: William J. Borucki, NASA/Ames Research Centre.

Title: Exoplanet results from the Kepler Mission.

Abstract: Kepler’s mission is to determine whether Earth-size planets in the habitable zone (HZ) of stars like the Sun are common or rare. This information will also be used to develop future missions that will characterize the planetary atmospheres and surfaces of such planets.

Kepler has already discovered over 3500 planetary candidates and found that they have an enormous range of sizes, temperatures, and types of stellar hosts. In particular, exoplanets near the size of Earth’s moon to those larger than Jupiter have been found orbiting stars much cooler and smaller than the Sun as well to stars hotter and often larger than the Sun. Several planets have been discovered orbiting binary stars.

Calculated temperatures for these planets range from those higher than molten lava (~1830K for Kepler-10b) for planets very near their host star to temperatures to those as cold as -70C. However, the Kepler Mission has also found several planets in the HZ of their host star and even found one in the HZ of a binary star.

Masses of those planets with large masses and/or short orbital-periods can be are being determined by radial velocity and transit timing methods. By combining these results with the sizes obtained from transit photometry, densities of these planets are being calculated. These range from 0.2 gr/cc for Kepler-7b to 8.8 gr/cc for Kepler-10b. These values indicate that their compositon range from mostly gas, to water planets, and to iron-rich rocky planets. Surprisingly, a very wide range of densities has been found for closely-packed planets orbiting the same star (Kepler-11). This result implies that contrary to what is observed in our Solar System, the composition (whether rocky, water-rich, or gas) cannot be surmised from the composition of its neighbors or from the amount of insolation.

The many types of discoveries that Kepler has made will be presented as well as the current status of the Mission now that the telescope can no longer point with the precision needed to continue normal operations.

About our speaker:

William Borucki is a space scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He received a MSc in physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1962 and then moved to NASA Ames where he first worked on the development of the heat shield for the Apollo Mission in the Hypersonic Free Flight Branch. After the successful Moon landings, he transferred to the Theoretical Studies Branch where he investigated lightning activity in planetary atmospheres and developed mathematical models to predict the effects of nitric oxides and chlorofluoromethanes on the Earth’s ozone layer. In 1984, he began advocating the development of a space mission that could detect Earth-size planets and determine the frequency of Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars. In the succeeding years he developed the techniques required to find such small planets and showed that the technology and analysis techniques were sufficiently mature to proceed to flight status.  Currently he is the Science Principal Investigator for the Kepler Mission that is designed to determine the frequency of terrestrial planets orbiting in and near the habitable zones of other stars. The Mission uses transit photometry to monitor over 170,000 stars, was launched on March 6, 2009, and is now in the data analysis phase. Based on the first three years of observations, over 134 planets have been confirmed and an additional 3400 planetary candidates have been discovered.

His awards include;

2013 Henry Draper Medal. Presented by the National Academy of Sciences for “your founding concept, unflagging advocacy, and visionary leadership during the development of NASA's Kepler mission, which has uncovered myriad planets and solar systems with unforeseen and surprising properties.”

2012 AIAA Science Award, "For outstanding leadership by designing and executing a space mission that has completely changed our view of frequency, structure, and diversity of planetary systems around the stars.”

2012 Astronomical Society of the Pacific 2012 Maria & Eric Muhlman Award, "for recent significant observational results made possible by innovative advances in astronomical instrumentation, software, or observational infrastructure".

2012 SPIE George W. Goddard Award,

2011 Lancelot M. Berkeley Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy

2011 Harvard Club of San Francisco; Public Service Leader of the Year

2010 NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal

2010 NASA Systems Engineering Excellence Award

2010 NASA Group Achievement Award; Kepler Science Team

2009 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award

2005 Ames Honor Award; Excellence in the category of Scientist/Researcher

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  • florence f.

    Hi. That is so very kind of you, Teresa and David and Ted. I have studied the very good directions and am going to see ifIcan find my way. If I do I will see you there. I think it will be a most interesting lecture!!

    February 1, 2014

  • Teresa

    I would like to come. Is anyone able to share a ride with me to SFU and back? I live on West 13th and Granville in Vancouver.
    Thank you

    January 17, 2014

    • David K.

      Hi Teresa, to play it safe, we should probably budget about an hour to get out to SFU from my place so 7pm?

      1 · January 31, 2014

    • Ted A.

      I saw last night that David could help and he's a lot closer to you so glad you found someone closer that worked out!

      January 31, 2014

  • florence f.

    I am so delighted to hear of someone with exactly the same direction difficulties as I have. I am no help with the directions - wish I could follow you if you find someone (we could ave a parade). I have a car and live at Nanaimo and 1st.

    January 30, 2014

    • Teresa

      Hey Florence, I asked David to kindly give us both a ride... I think we will be better off if someone drives us to SFU....

      January 31, 2014

  • Scott M.

    I want to attend this so badly I may cancel my family vacation. How often do you meet someone from the Apollo missions?

    January 24, 2014

  • patricia

    Is it at 6 pm or 8:00 pm?

    January 18, 2014

    • Leigh C.

      Hi Patricia, The meet and greet for RASC members only is from 6pm to 8pm. The talk that starts at 8pm is for members as well as the general public.

      1 · January 19, 2014

  • Art P.

    This breaks my heart that I will have to miss this; I have just scheduled a vacation and will be away. I was really looking forward to his visit !

    January 18, 2014

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