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The Fan

Explore NASA’s Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt Over Lunch with the RVA Native Leading the Effort

The Science Museum of Virginia overs up free Lunch Break Science where you spend your lunch hour learning a variety of subjects. This week they’re taking us to Pluto.




On Wednesday, November 27th, at noon as part of their ongoing series Lunch Break Science, the Science Museum of Virginia is hosting a presentation by Alice Bowman titled “New Horizons: NASA’s Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.”

Ms. Bowman is the New Horizons Mission Operations Manager at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. In a nutshell, she leads a team of approx. 40 scientists, supervising the day-to-day operations for one of NASA’s most distant spacecraft. The New Horizons 2015 Pluto flyby captured the most high-resolution images of the dwarf planet to date. (photos here and here)

Pluto’s largest moon Charon.

But while the mission might be far far away, Ms. Bowman actually grew up very close by, right here in the Richmond area. The first female mission operations manager for the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory graduated from J.R. Tucker High School before heading to UVA.

Ms. Bowman spoke in the Dome in March 2016. For Wednesday’s talk, she will give an overview of the New Horizons mission, with recent updates, and let everyone know what’s coming down the road. Her presentation is a nice way to celebrate–and be thankful for–the accomplishments of women in STEM!

Just 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the sun and captured this near-sunset view of the rugged, icy mountains and flat ice plains extending to Pluto’s horizon. – Source: New Horizon website

The talk begins at 12 PM in the Barbara Thalhimer Theater and is completely free just check-in at the Guest Services desk and they’ll point you towards the theater. Guests are welcome to bring their lunch and eat during the presentation. Because of the notoriety of the mission and speaker, the museum is expecting a good size crowd.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.