Monday, June 2, 2014
Don Gurnett in classroom with spacecraft model
Don Gurnett has participated in NASA missions to nearly every planet in the solar system. File photo by Tom Jorgensen.

Editor's note: Due to overwhelming response, this event is currently full and online RSVPs are no longer being accepted. A video recording of a previous presentation of this lecture is available online here.

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 June 16 campus lecture.

The event is part of the University of Iowa’s popular Hawkeye Lunch and Learn series. Gurnett’s talk will take place Monday, June 16, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Lucas-Dodge Room of the Iowa Memorial Union. Guests are invited to bring their lunch. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited; online RSVP is required.

To read a related story on another Lunch and Learn lecture, see UI Mobile Museum travels to Des Moines June 17.

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 between the hot gaseous envelope of the Sun and the interstellar medium at a distance 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 events in Des Moines and Iowa City designed to connect Iowa communities, university faculty, and government and industry leaders. The Provost’s Office of Outreach and Engagement sponsors the series. Upcoming events in Iowa City include:

  • August: "When Theory Meets Practice: Women’s studies students working with women on the inside," Rachel Williams, associate professor of women's studies
  • October: “Magical Mythical Tour: In search of the Beatles,” Donna Parsons, Honors Program

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.