It has taken the New Horizons spacecraft nine and half years to reach the edge of our solar system. Its quest: to uncover the mysteries of the dwarf planet Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, a disc-shaped region of icy objects left over from the solar system's formation. In mid-July, New Horizons will pass approximately 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) above Pluto's surface, giving us our first-ever look at this icy, rocky world.
"We are going into terra incognita," says principal investigator Alan Stern. What we learn could refine, or even transform, our understanding of the solar system.
On May 26th at 6:30 p.m. EDT at AAAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Stern will discuss the New Horizons mission and the discoveries that are sure to come.
RSVP to reserve your spot!
Date: May 26, 2015
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. EDT
Location: AAAS Headquarters / 2nd Floor Auditorium
1200 New York Ave.
Washington D.C., 20005
Principal Investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt
S. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, and author. Stern is the Principal Investigator (PI) of NASA's $727M New Horizons mission to reconnoiter Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. New Horizons launched in 2006 and arrives at Pluto in 2015. He is also the PI of two instruments aboard New Horizons, the Alice UV spectrometer and the Ralph Visible Imager/IR Spectrometer.
In 2007, he was named to the Time 100 and was appointed NASA's chief of all science missions. Since 2009, he has been an Associate Vice President at the Southwest Research Institute. Additionally, from 2008-2012 he served on the board of directors of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, and from 2011-2013 he served as the Director of the Florida Space Institute. Stern also served as the Chief Scientist and Mission Architect for the Moon Express Google Lunar X-Prize Team from 2010-2013. In 2007 and 2008, he served as NASA's chief of all space and Earth science programs, directing a $4.4B organization with 93 separate flight missions and a program of over 3,000 research grants. During his NASA tenure, a record 10 major new flight projects were started and deep reforms of NASA's scientific research and the education and public outreach programs were put in place. His tenure was notable for an emphasis on cost control in NASA flight missions that resulted in a 63% decrease in cost overruns.
Before receiving his doctorate from the University of Colorado in 1989, he completed twin master's degrees in aerospace engineering and atmospheric sciences. His two undergraduate degrees are in physics and astronomy from the University of Texas. Stern has published over 200 technical papers and 40 popular articles. He has given over 300 technical talks and over 100 popular lectures and speeches about astronomy and the space program. He has written two books, The U.S. Space Program After Challenger (Franklin- Watts, 1987), and Pluto and Charon: Ice Worlds on the Ragged Edge of the Solar System (Wiley 1997, 2005). Additionally, he has served as editor on three technical volumes, and three collections of scientific popularizations: Our Worlds (Cambridge, 1998), Our Universe (Cambridge, 2000), and Worlds Beyond (Cambridge, 2003).