FANTASTIC SPACE EXPLORATION AND CUTTING EDGE DISCOVERIES (LPL 0309): The past couple years have been full of remarkable astronomical discoveries made possible by NASA missions: Cassini/Huygens’ look at Saturn’s dynamic rings and moons system; Curiosity and Opportunity still roving Mars; and New Horizons’ successful fly-by of Pluto and flight towards a Kuiper Belt object a billion miles beyond Pluto. Recent discoveries are altering our perspectives on the Solar System and many, possibly habitable, planets beyond. Mondays, 10/2-10/9, 7-9 p.m., Tuition $35
Read more about this exciting course and its knowledgeable instructor, James Kovac, in the interview below:
What topics will be covered in this course?
We’ll look at the discoveries by New Horizons at Pluto, the tiny ice-world within the Kuiper Belt at the outer extent of our Solar System explored so far.
We’ll also discuss the incredible discoveries of Saturn and its system of moons and rings made possible by the Cassini spacecraft as it concludes its mission this September in a dramatic plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere.
We’ll also explore a variety of current areas of astronomical research — the search for Planet 9, the structure of our outer Solar System, as well as characterizing exoplanets like Proxima b and those of the TRAPPIST-1 system. There are really intriguing questions being asked, and it’s mind-blowing to realize that our technology and scientific methods are bringing us closer to finding answers.
Why do you teach this course? I teach this course to share my interest and passion in space science and exploration with students. I’ve long been interested in the scientific missions that push beyond the boundaries of what is known about our place in the Cosmos, and have been sharing presentations and classes with students of all ages since 2005 when I began participating in the Solar System Ambassador Program administered by the Jet Propulsion Lab and NASA.
Why should students take this course? One of the main reasons to take this course is to satisfy your curiosity about what has been discovered about our Solar System and the broader Universe as a result of NASA’s space missions as they continue to explore.
What will students take away from this course? I hope that students come away from this course with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what we are learning about our local neighborhood of space, the Universe in which we exist, and our place within it.
Click here to learn more about Cassini, and the looming end of its unprecedented voyage.
About the Instructor: A space exploration enthusiast from an early age, Jim Kovac grew up during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo mission years. He has watched with interest as exciting discoveries from NASA’s planetary missions have been made, and anticipates the potential of further exploration and discovery as current and future space missions unfold.
As a Space Science Lecturer, Kovac researches, composes, and provides space science presentations for the public at libraries, schools (elementary – community college), and astronomical organizations. He has participated since 2005 as a volunteer in the Solar System Ambassador Program administered by the Jet Propulsion Lab. Kovac is motivated to share his excitement for space exploration and discovery with the public to educate and foster interest in science.