Duncan Lecture

The Annual Duncan Lecture in the Department of Physics



2022 Duncan Lecture

 Annual Duncan Lecture


When: Thursday, October 13, 2 p.m.

Where: Science Center Auditorium classroom



New Horizons is NASA’s mission to explore the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt (KB). New Horizons launched in 2006 and made the first explorations of the Pluto system in July 2015 and the first exploration of any Kuiper Belt Object (KBO), a body named Arrokoth, in January 2019. It is now on an extended mission to explore the Kuiper Belt and conduct other scientific investigations only feasible from its position 54 AU from the Sun, or farther. The spacecraft carries a sophisticated payload of imagers, spectrometers, and other scientific instruments. The flyby of the Pluto system by New Horizons revealed a complex planet and satellite system. Beyond providing rich geological, compositional, and atmospheric datasets, New Horizons also demonstrated that Pluto has been surprisingly geologically and climatologically active throughout 4+ Gyr, and that it exhibits a surprisingly complex range of phenomenology and geologic expression that rivals Mars in its richness. I will describe the mission’s objectives, the capabilities of the payload, the flybys of Pluto and KBO Arrokoth, and some of the major scientific discoveries made about in these flybys. I will close by also outlining the future extended mission of New Horizons.


About Dr. Alan Stern:




Sol Alan Stern (New Orleans, 1957) is an American engineer and planetary scientist. His research has focused on studies of our solar system's Kuiper belt and Oort cloud, comets, the satellites of the outer planets, Pluto, and the search for evidence of planetary systems around other stars. Stern is the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Chief Scientist at Moon Express and served as the Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.