NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission to Asteroid Bennu and Back
is the subject of this month’s Estes Valley Astronomical Society (EVAS) meeting. EVAS in conjunction with The Estes Park Memorial Observatory is offering a free public open house/star night on Saturday, January 27, 2017. The goal of EVAS is to promote amateur astronomy and education in the Estes valley.
The primary objective of NASA’s Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission is to return a pristine sample from the asteroid Bennu to help scientists understand the origin and evolution of our solar system, and how life began. Asteroids like Bennu are remnants of the infant solar system and contain a record of events that are not preserved on Earth. Bennu also is likely rich in carbon, a key element in the organic molecules necessary for life. Organic molecules have been found in meteorite and comet samples, indicating that some of life’s ingredients can be created in space; scientists want to see if they also are present on Bennu. OSIRIS-REx also will provide key insights into how near-Earth asteroid orbits change over time and how we can use this information to better predict which asteroids may pose a hazard to Earth.
Our speaker this month is Vicky Hamilton. Vicky is a staff scientist and acting section manager at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. She received her Ph.D. from Arizona State University and her A.B. from Occidental College. Vicky has extensive experience with laboratory spectroscopy and planetary data analysis, having worked on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Science Laboratory, 2001 Mars Odyssey, OSIRIS-REx, and Lucy missions. She has built, operates, and manages a NASA-supported spectroscopy laboratory equipped to measure rocks, minerals, and meteorites. In her spare time, Vicky enjoys photography, hiking, and archery.
The observatory is just north of the high school at 1600 Manford Ave. Park in the teacher’s parking lot between the high school and the observatory. The doors will open at 7:00 pm and the meeting will start at 7:30 pm. The presentation, including a question and answer period, lasts about an hour. After the presentation, weather permitting, we will look through our new 16 inch dome telescope at various celestial objects.
Information about the meeting can be found on the observatory website at: www.AngelsAbove.Org.