Lava Worlds to Living Worlds

How a NASA Mission Sparked the Search for Life Beyond the Solar System

February 20, 2019 | 8:00pm
Presented Online | Museum in Washington, DC
Free, Registration Required
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Explore the worlds beyond our solar system with a planet-hunter

7:00 pm           Special showing of Eric Whitacre’s Deep Field: the Impossible Magnitude of our Universe
7:30 pm           Meet the lecturer
8:00 pm           Lecture begins
9:00 pm           Stargazing in the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory (Weather permitting) 

NASA recently announced the end of an era: After nine years of operation, NASA's Kepler spacecraft has been retired, but not without making an indelible imprint on humankind's understanding of the universe. Perhaps its greatest legacy is the knowledge that planets outnumber stars in the galaxy. With over 2,500 planet discoveries and another 2,000 awaiting confirmation, Kepler revealed a staggering diversity of worlds, turning sci-fi fantasy into scientific reality. It also changed our collective perspective regarding the feasability of finding evidence of life beyond Earth and catalyzed efforts across the globe to reach that goal. 

In this illustrated, nontechnical presentation, astrophysicist and planet hunter, Dr. Natalie Batalha, the former project scientist for NASA's Kepler mission, will give an overview of Kepler’s remarkable scientific legacy. She will highlight some of the key discoveries and share a preview of exciting follow-up missions in progress and on the drawing board. With the retirement of Kepler, we pass the baton and watch in anticipation as a new era of exploration unfolds.

Join us before the lecture for a special showing of of Eric Whitacre's Deep Field: the Impossible Magnitude of our Universe and a chance to meet the lecturer.

This lecture is free, but tickets are required. Reserve tickets now.

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The John N. Bahcall Lecture is sponsored by the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Hubble Space Telescope Project/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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