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Speaker 10 February: Dr. Howard Trottier

howard-trottier

Dr. Howard Trottier

Our speaker at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, at 7:30 PM on Friday, 10 February, 2017, will be Dr. Howard Trottier, who will be speaking about “Outreach, Education, and Science at Simon Fraser University’s Trottier Observatory and Science Plaza.”

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Telescope at the Trottier Observatory at SFU

Enceladus Issues

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Nasa photo of Enceladus

At last Friday’s lecture (by Dr. Jon Willis) I asked about the plans to get the probe back from Enceladus. I thought the speaker’s response that “what comes up must come down” was flippant and contrary to Newtonian physics. For instance, geosynchronous satellites do not “come back down” and have never been brought back down to low orbit for repair or refueling.

This is a non-trivial problem. Enceladus is the second most proximal moon to Saturn and is therefore deep in Saturn’s gravity well. Return to earth involves raising the probe to a heliocentric orbit (effectively Saturn escape velocity) then converting to a Hohmann transfer orbit with Earth perihelion at 1 AU. My understanding is that transfer between two circular orbits (E.G.: Earth and Saturn) using a Hohmann transfer orbit requires the same delta-v independent of the direction of the transfer. Since the probe relied on multiple gravity assist manoeuvres to get to Saturn, I doubt it has the luxury of carting a lot of fuel for the return trip.

At Earth orbit perihelion it will need to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at close to Earth’s escape velocity.  I don’t know of a successful re-entry from a heliocentric orbit, or if it is feasible.

I’m not saying return can’t be done, just that getting the probe home is as difficult as getting it up there in the first place. The project invites some interesting jiggery-pokery. Like more gravity assist or aerobraking.

My second question was about return of the plutonium battery and potential radioactive contamination upon re-entry. There have been several inadvertent re-entries of plutonium batteries (Apollo 13 Lunar Module being one). The issue has been addressed by containing the batteries within their own re-entry heat shielding so they would land  in one piece (hopefully not in my backyard). Also, the Plutonium-238 isotope used in batteries has a half life of only 64 years, not the 24,000 years of weapons grade plutonium. I feel much safer now.

Bruce Woodburn

 

Speaker for 14 October: Dr. Julio Navarro

navarro_0On 14 October, 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, 5714 Medusa St, Sechelt,  at 7:30 PM, our guest speaker will be Dr. Julio Navarro from the University of Victoria, whose topic will be: Dark Matter and Dark Energy: the Puzzling Forces that Shape our Universe.

NOTE: Members will be holding their AGM to elect the new board at 7 PM. Public will not be admitted until 7:30.

Speaker for 9 September: Dr. Jon Willis

dr jon willis

Our speaker for Friday, 9 September at 7:30 PM will be astrophysicist Dr. Jon Willis from the University of Victoria. His topic will be: All These Worlds are Yours.

NOTE: This meeting will take place at Capilano University, NOT the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre where we met in the past.

Speaker for June: Dr. Jim Hesser

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Dr. Jim Hesser

At 7:30 PM, 10 June 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, our speaker will be Dr. James Hesser, FRASC. Dr. Hesser was the RASC’s Honorary President (2009-2013) and former Director of the NRC Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO). Dr. Hesser is past president of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) and of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Dr. Hesser is past vice-president of the American Astronomical Society. He is recipient of numerous awards, including, most recently, the RASC’s Qilak Award for his “outstanding contribution to public appreciation and understanding of Astronomy” and is a Fellow of the RASC. He was one of the first to receive the prestigious Michael Smith award, given by NSERC Canada to recognize those who inspire through the promotion of science to the general public. Dr. Hesser was the first recipient of the Newton-Ball Award, Victoria Centre’s own service award (2001). Dr. Hesser has been awarded the National Research Council’s W. G. Schneider Medal for his inspiring decades-long contribution to the pursuit of excellence in Canadian government astronomy, both as a productive researcher, and as the Director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory for nearly three decades (1986-2014). The award also recognizes Jim’s committed advocacy of astronomy as a integral part of our broader cultural life, both here and abroad.

Dr. Hesser’s topic will be: “Centenary-eve Reflections on the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory’s Role in the Development of Canadian Astronomical Excellence”

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The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich: 98 years old!

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

Contact Information:

Check out the Sunshine Coast RASC site at: http://www.coastastronomy.ca/ for contact and schedule information.

Sunshine Coast RASC President Charles Ennis:

e mail: cuhulain@ telus.net

phone 778-458-2666

Speaker for 13 May: Steve Mairs

 

steve mairsAt 7:30 PM, 13 May 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, Steve Mairs, a PhD student in astronomy at the University of Victoria and the outreach supervisor for the U Vic Astronomy department, will be our speaker. The topic of Mairs’ talk is Where Baby Stars Come From, and Why it’s Important to Know!

In this talk, Mairs will examine the birth of a sun-like star and introduce some of the research being performed in Victoria to further our knowledge on this subject. Mairs’ main focus will be on the Orion Molecular Cloud, a giant star-forming region in the Milky Way which encompasses the famous Orion Nebula. Mairs will present images of what the Orion Nebula looks like at submillimetre wavelengths and show how these often overlooked observations can provide vital information into the young lives of stars. By studying “where baby stars come from”, we can make links to present day observations of star clusters, supernova explosion rates, the formation of planets, and, in effect our very own origin story.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.

sciod-en

 

8 April 2016- Dr. Catherine Johnson: The InSight Mission

dr. Catherine Johnson

At 7:30 PM, 8 April 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, The Sunshine Coast Centre welcomes Dr. Catherine Johnson from UBC, whose topic will be The InSight Mission: Journey to the Center of Mars

Orbital and lander missions to Mars over the past several decades have revealed a wealth of information about the planet’s surface geology and raised many unanswered questions about the planet’s past climate conditions. Key to answering many of these questions is understanding the planet’s deep interior, about which we know very little. Mars’ interior is also a fingerprint for the earliest stages of evolution of any of the terrestrial (rocky) planets in the inner solar system. The InSight mission, planned for launch in 2018, will deploy a seismometer, a heat flow probe and several other instruments on the surface of Mars. I will talk about how InSight will monitor the Red Planet’s “vital signs” – “pulse” (seismicity), “temperature” (heat flow) and “reflexes” (wobbles) – to determine Mars’ interior structure and evolution.

Admission is free: donations gratefully accepted at the door.