KU NASA’s 60th anniversary Symposium - Department of Physics and Astronomy


All talks and posters will be located in the Integrated Science Building. 

            8:30   Registration and Breakfast

Morning Session (9:00 am – 12:00 pm):  Space Science

9:15    WelcomeAd Astra Past, Present, and Future, Dr. Barbara Anthong-Twarog, KU Astronomy

9:30    Discoveries in Earth's Inner Magnetosphere in the Era of the Van Allen Probes MissionDr. Jerry Manweiler, Fundamental Technologies

9:45    Dr. J. Douglas Patterson, Fundamental Technologies, Radial variation in energetic ion composition from 1 AU to the Termination Shock

10:15  Coffee Break and Poster Session

10:45  Bailey Miller, KU Aerospace Engineering, Mars Orbiter Operating Near Satellites (MOONS)

11:00  Taylor George, KU Aerospace Engineering, PROSERPINE: Pluto Research Orbiter Studying Experimental Rocket Propulsion for Improving trans-Neptunian Exploration

11:15  Invited Lecture: Ad Astra per Aspera: Exploring Kansas to Help Us Better Explore Mars, Dr. Alison Olcott, KU Department of Geology

On August 7, 1996, President Clinton announced to a shocked world that NASA scientists had potentially discovered signs of Martian life in meteorite ALH84001. This rock, ejected off the Martian surface 17 million years ago and picked up off of the Antarctic ground in 1984, contained microstructures some scientists claimed were fossilized bacteria. Twenty-three years later, most researchers agree that this meteorite does not contain signs of life, but the hunt for life on Mars continues unabated. From Mariner IV, which provided the first close-up view of Mars on July 15, 1965, to the yet-as-unnamed rover scheduled to launch in July 2020, each mission to Mars has flown instruments designed to help us look for evidence of life—alive or fossilized—on the red planet. However, the search for life on Mars actually starts here on Earth, as Mars analog sites help us understand the limits of life, understand how the signs of that life can be preserved, and understand the limits of scientific instruments in detecting that life. Scientists have turned to many Mars analog sites, including Rio Tinto in Spain, the Atacama Desert in Chile, the McMurdo Dry Valley in Antarctica, and the Red Hills of Kansas. There, iron-stained rocks are interbedded with rocks formed in evaporating saline waters about 275 million years ago, an environment that is also quite common on Mars. Using instruments similar to those present on Mars today, we have been able to find, for the first time, the preserved remnants of biological molecules trapped within the evaporative minerals, suggesting a hitherto-unknown pathway to preserve life on Mars. In this talk I will explore what we know about the possibility of life Mars, how we plan to look for it, and indulge in some speculation about what we could find.

Lunch (Provided): 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, Burge Union

Afternoon Session (1:00 pm – 5:00 pm): Extragalactic Astronomy

1:00    Kurt Hamblin, KU Astronomy, Spectral Energy Distributions of Luminous X-ray Selected AGN in Stripe 82X

1:15    Sharon Gary, KU Astronomy, What SEDs Can Tell Us About AGN

1:30    Cassie Hatcher, KU Astronomy, Does Excess Mid-Infrared Emission Reliably Signal an AGN

1:45    Brandon Coleman, KU Astronomy, The Accretion History of AGN: Understanding the Far-Infrared Properties of Unobscured AGN Observed in the X-Ray Waveband

2:00    Justin Mann, KU Astronomy, Dust Obscured Star Formation Rates Using the Spitzer Space Telescope

2:15    Coffee and Poster Session / Breakout Session: Astronomy in the Classroom

3:00    Dr. Allison Kirkpatrick, KU Astronomy, Properties of Extreme Supermassive Black Holes

3:20    Michael Estrada, KU Aerospace Engineering, Accretion History of AGN: Measuring Properties of Cold Quasars

3:35    Dr. Gregory Rudnick, KU Astronomy, Ultra-compact and massive pre-post-startbursts as revealed by WISE, Chandra, and HST 

3:55    Dr. Kevin Cooke, KU Astronomy, The effect of environment on star formation in COSMOS

4:15    Invited Lecture: Gravitational Waves: A New Window on the Universe, Dr. Karen Camarda, Washburn University

Gravitational waves are a phenomena that was predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1916. These waves are extremely weak and difficult to detect. After decades of intense theoretical and technical work, scientists and engineers first directly detected  gravitational waves which were produced by the collision of two black holes in September of 2015. Since that initial detection, there have been more than 10 confirmed detections, and dozens more likely detections currently under study. In this talk I will describe what gravitational waves are, how they are detected, and what they tell us about our universe.

Evening Session (7:00 pm – 9:00 pm; ISB 1154): Ad Astra with the Chandra X-ray Observatory

7:00    Introductory Remarks: Dr. Joy Ward, Associate Dean for Science Research, KU

7:10    Invited Lecture: Getting Chandra to Orbit, Dr. Steve Hawley, NASA Astronaut (retired), University of Kansas

The Chandra X-ray Observatory was the third of the NASA Great Observatories to be launched and the last to launch on the Space Shuttle. In this presentation I will highlight key aspects in the development of the spacecraft from the initial proposal in 1976 to launch in 1999. I will also summarize the development of the mission plan and the many issues that the crew and the flight control team had to address in the 18 months prior to launch. I will share the experience of launching aboard Space Shuttle Columbia and several problems that occurred during ascent. Finally, I will recall the activities that the crew undertook to successfully deploy Chandra from Columbia and send it a third of the way to the Moon.

7:50    Invited Lecture: Science Highlights from the Chandra X-ray Observatoryt, Dr. Jan Vrtilek, Chandra X-ray Center, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

X-ray astronomy, which is possible only from a vantage point outside the Earth’s atmosphere, has proven itself a central component in the broad spectrum of methods that contemporary astrophysics employs to investigate the Universe. Chandra, which offers among its many capabilities by-far the sharpest vision among X-ray satellites, has enabled major strides in our understanding on all scales, from planets and comets to distant quasars, and continues yielding forefront science twenty years after launch. We’ll start with a broad view of the contributions from Chandra observations, focus in on a couple of the areas where Chandra has made major impacts, and finish with a look forward at the potential capabilities of future missions.

8:30    Joint Q & A with Dr. Hawley and Dr. Vrtilekchaired by Dr. Ward

Poster Presentations (ISB 1146)

Dr. Craig A. McLaughlin, KU Aerospace Engineering, The Thermosphere, Satellite Drag, and KU

Brendon Madison, KU Physics, KUbeSat PCRD, HiCalc2, ABC Payload

Arno Prinsloo, KU Aerospace Engineering, Electric Propulsion for Cube Satellite Constellation

Taylor R. George, KU Aerospace Engineering, Artificial Neural Networks for the Prediction of Atmospheric Density

Casey Carlile, KU Astronomy, Creating Cutouts of Herschel Stripe 82 Data Using Python

Arno Prinsloo, KU Aerospace Engineering, KUbeSat1

Symposium Exhibitors

We welcome the following student clubs, community organizations, and businesses who will have booths in our exhibition space

Ad Astra

Astronomy Associates of Lawrence

Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Fundamental Technologies (FTECS)

KU Diversity in Physics

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