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'Ask a Scientist' to deliver 'Hot News from Space' April 26

RELEASED: April 12, 2011

Dr. Paul Thomas
Dr. Paul Thomas

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's "Ask a Scientist" series will continue this month with "Hot News from Space," delivered by Dr. Paul Thomas, professor and chair of the UW-Eau Claire physics and astronomy department.

Thomas' presentation, which will begin at 7 p.m. April 26 at the Acoustic Café in downtown Eau Claire, will highlight some of the remarkable achievements of the past year, including:

  • The opposite sides of the sun were mapped with the dual Stereo spacecraft, producing a 3D view of our sun for the first time.

  • The first repeat mission to a comet was made with the flyby of the Stardust spacecraft by Comet Tempel I. The images showed a crater left by the collision of the Deep Impact probe in 2005.

  • The Messenger spacecraft became the first spacecraft to go into orbit around Mercury.

  • The New Horizons mission passed its halfway point en route to Pluto in 2015.

  • The number of planets discovered around other stars now exceeds 500, with planets as small as 1.5 times the Earth's mass regularly detected.

The 50th anniversary of the flight of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit the Earth, will be commemorated April 12. These events and upcoming missions, such as the Curiosity rover to Mars, the Dawn mission to the asteroids Ceres and Vesta, and the Juno mission to Jupiter will be discussed.

Organizers of the "Ask a Scientist" series are open to suggestions from the community for future topics. Ideas for interesting or even controversial scientific presentations are welcome.

For more information or to submit ideas, contact Dr. Paul Thomas at 715-836-3615 or thomaspj@uwec.edu.

-30-

RD/DW

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