Firsthand account of Voyager's interstellar journey

Firsthand account of Voyager's interstellar journey

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Don Gurnett describes a milestone in space exploration
Don Gurnett in classroom with spacecraft modelDon Gurnett has participated in NASA missions to nearly every planet in the solar system, including the outliers surveyed by Voyager I before the spacecraft's odyssey into interstellar space. File photo by Tom Jorgensen.

Thirty-six years after launch, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft reached interstellar space in 2013. Renowned space scientist Don Gurnett will offer firsthand perspective on Voyager’s incredible journey during a March 25 talk in Des Moines.

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The event continues the University of Iowa’s popular Hawkeye Lunch and Learn series, which has been drawing capacity crowds since its January debut. The series expands to Iowa City this month.

Gurnett’s talk will take place Tuesday, March 25, from noon to 1 p.m. at the UI John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center, 1200 Grand Ave. in Des Moines. Guests are invited to bring their lunch—desserts and drinks will be provided.

The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. RSVP online.

Gurnett, J.A. Van Allen/R.J. Carver Professor of Physics in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will discuss his role in the Voyager 1 and 2 missions launched in 1977. The two spacecraft set out to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

“The planetary lineup required for this mission occurs only once every 179 years,” Gurnett says. “Once the craft completed their grand tour, NASA established the goal of penetrating the cold primordial medium between the stars for the very first time.”

In April 2013, the UI-built instrument aboard Voyager I showed that the spacecraft had reached the boundary of our sun’s hot gaseous envelope, more than three times the distance to Pluto. NASA announced the discovery in a September press conference that drew global attention.

An expert on radio and plasma waves, Gurnett has participated in missions to nearly every planet in the solar system, carrying on the UI’s pioneering space research. He’s an author on 650 research papers and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Hawkeye Lunch and Learn series offers monthly events in Des Moines and Iowa City designed to connect Iowa communities, university faculty, and government and industry leaders. The UI Office of the Provost sponsors the series.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, contact the Office of the Provost in advance at 319-335-3565.

Contacts

Linda Snetselaar, Office of the Provost, 319-335-3566
Erika Christiansen, Office of the Provost, 319-335-0219

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