COSAM News Articles 2022 October Listen to the Primary Investigator of the NASA New Horizons mission at this year’s Duncan Lecture

Listen to the Primary Investigator of the NASA New Horizons mission at this year’s Duncan Lecture

Published: 10/04/2022

By: Maria Gebhardt

Want to learn more about what is at the edge of our solar system? Is Pluto a planet or a ‘dwarf planet’?

Hear directly from the Primary Investigator, or PI, of NASA’s New Horizons space mission, S. Alan Stern, at this year’s Duncan Lecture on October 13 at 2 p.m. in the Sciences Center Auditorium. The New Horizons launched in Jan. 2006 and completed a flyby of Pluto in Jul. 2015. It provided us with the first maps of Pluto and its moons and continued onward the explore objects in Kuiper Belt. This area of space is a part of our solar system that begins at the orbit of Neptune and includes comets and dwarf planets, frozen relics from when our planets formed.

According to Stern, this area has exciting potential for space exploration.

“We’re just learning that a lot of planets are small planets, and we didn’t know that before, fact is, in planetary science, objects such as Pluto and the other dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt are considered planets and called planets in everyday discourse in scientific meetings.” 

The annual Duncan Lecture is hosted by the Department of Physics at Auburn University. The Duncan Memorial Lecture, established in 2012 by Dora Duncan '48 in chemistry, commemorates her husband, Dr. M.M. "Dunc" Duncan, Jr., '49, a physics alumnus. An active amateur astronomer, it is with respect to his enduring interest in the field, combined with his penchant for exploration, discovery and knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics, that this lecture is dedicated. It is a free, annual astronomy lecture held at Auburn University open the entire community.

To learn more about this event, please visit the annual Duncan Lecture website.


Previous speakers for the annual Duncan Lecture include:

2021 - Deirdre Shoemaker, Center for Gravitational Physics, University of Texas at Austin

2019 – Dennis Bodewits, Department of Physics, Auburn University

2017 – Michael McCollough, Archive Operations, Astrophysicist, Archival Astrophysicist, Center for Astrophysics, Harvard and Smithsonian

2016 - John C. Mather, Senior Scientist, Cosmology, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center  

2015 - Sara Seager, Professor of Planetary Science and Physics, MIT  

2014 - Bradley M. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, The Ohio State University  

2013 - Dan Hooper, Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago


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