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December 8, 2020

Exploration to the Extremes: Johns Hopkins APL Space Science at the 2020 AGU Fall Meeting

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) are discussing new ideas and plans for NASA missions to the Sun, asteroids, ocean worlds and beyond during the American Geophysical Union’s 2020 Fall Meeting, running online until Dec. 17.

Registered media can access the meeting platform here. A few highlighted sessions from the dozens of APL presentations and posters are listed below. To arrange interviews with APL experts during the meeting, contact Michael Buckley, APL Public Affairs, at 443-567-3145 or michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu.

Exploring Interstellar Space

APL’s Pontus Brandt convenes a session on the comprehensive plans to design, build and launch the first robotic explorer toward the interstellar space beyond our solar system. APL’s Ralph McNutt and James Kinnison lead a roster of presenters on “Interstellar Probe: Pushing the Boundaries of Space Exploration” on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. EST.

Ocean Worlds and the Search for Life

APL astrobiologist Kate Craft leads a team developing technology to aid the search for life beyond Earth: a palm-sized microfluidic system to purify and isolate molecules — amino acids, proteins, RNA and DNA — that could be strong indicators of life. Craft discusses this innovation during “In Situ Science and Instrumentation for the Exploration of Europa and Ocean Worlds” on Friday, Dec. 11, from 7 to 8 p.m. EST. A natural fit for such technology would be the Enceladus Orbilander, a mission concept calling for a spacecraft to orbit and land on an icy Saturnian moon with a subsurface ocean and signs of habitability. APL planetary scientist Shannon MacKenzie covered the Orbilander concept in a Dec. 7 presentation and poster available throughout the meeting.

Read more about Craft’s work and the Enceladus Orbilander in this feature article on the Johns Hopkins APL Civil Space website.

Visiting Venus

On Monday, Dec. 14, at 1 p.m. EST, Noam Izenberg, APL planetary scientist and NASA Venus Exploration Analysis Group deputy chair, joins a media roundtable on “Life in the Clouds of Venus? Lessons From Studying Life in Earth’s Atmosphere.” Other panelists include Kevin Dillon, Rutgers University; and Diane Gentry and David Smith, both of NASA Ames Research Center.

Year of the Asteroids!

APL planetary scientist and Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission team member Nancy Chabot joins a media roundtable, “Year of the Asteroids! Missions to the Building Blocks of the Solar System,” on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 1 p.m. EST. Chabot and panelists from NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Arizona State University will cover several upcoming asteroid missions — including DART, the first planetary defense mission — and what we can learn from asteroids as storytellers of the solar system.

Parker Solar Probe: NASA’s Mission to Touch the Sun

On Wednesday, Dec. 16, APL’s Rob Decker convenes a two-part session on Parker Solar Probe, “One Step Closer to the Sun.” Part I runs from 1 to 2 p.m. EST, followed by part II from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Presentations from mission Project Scientist Nour Raouafi and other science team members and collaborators will focus on the discoveries of Parker Solar Probe’s first two years into a mission to revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, especially the source, structure and movement of the solar wind. Session posters are also available.

Meet the APL Space Explorers

Stop by the Johns Hopkins APL Virtual Exhibit Booth from 6 to 7 p.m. EST on Dec. 8–11 to meet the people behind APL’s latest and most innovative space missions.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 8: Nancy Chabot and Terik Daly, Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)
  • Wednesday, Dec. 9: Nour Raouafi, Parker Solar Probe
  • Thursday, Dec. 10: Joe Westlake, Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP)
  • Friday, Dec. 11: Kate Craft, life-detection technology, and Shannon MacKenzie, Dragonfly

Media contact: Michael Buckley, 240-228-7536 or 443-567-3145, Michael.Buckley@jhuapl.edu

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.