VERMILLION, S.D. -- This year’s Astronomy Day lecture explores recent findings from NASA’s New Horizon space probe’s mission to Pluto. Frances Bagenal, professor of astrophysical and planetary sciences at University of Colorado, Boulder, will present “Pluto -- The Pugnacious Planet” at 7 p.m. Monday, April 11, in Farber Hall, Old Main.
Bagenal is a co-investigator on the New Horizons mission. Her main area of expertise is the study of charged particles trapped in planetary magnetic fields. She is interested in finding out if the solar wind interaction with Pluto’s escaping atmosphere acts like a comet. Her talk will describe how New Horizons came to be, how the spacecraft got to Pluto and how the findings are challenging our understanding of ice worlds in the outer solar system.
Bagenal received her doctorate from MIT in 1981 and spent five years as a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial College, London, before returning to the United States for research and faculty positions in Boulder, Colorado. She has participated in many of NASA’s planetary exploration missions, including the Voyager mission to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Astronomy Day lectures are sponsored annually by the USD Department of Physics: www.usd.edu/physics.