The New Horizons mission to Pluto has led to new data and discoveries about Pluto, and Showalter will discuss this research and what scientists have learned from it. The free event is scheduled for Friday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Sierra Hall 132 on Modesto Junior College's West Campus, 2201 Blue Gum Avenue, Modesto. Campus parking is also free for the evening.
As a planetary astronomer, Showalter studies the dynamics of rings and small moons in the Solar System. Known for his persistence in planetary image analysis, his early work with Voyager data led to the discoveries of Jupiter's faint, outer "gossamer" rings and Saturn's tiny ring-moon, Pan. His work with the Hubble Space Telescope starting in 2003 led to the discoveries of "Mab" and "Cupid," small moons of Uranus named after characters from Shakespeare's plays, and also revealed two faint outer rings of dust encircling the planet. Additionally, Showalter is a co-investigator on NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn.
In 2011, Showalter initiated a Hubble observing program focused on Pluto, which has led to the discoveries of two tiny moons. Their names, "Kerberos" and "Styx", were selected through an international naming campaign. Most recently he discovered the 14th known moon of Neptune, which is designated "S/2004 N 1" until its permanent name can be selected.
The free MAPS event on Nov. 18 is intended for people over 12 years of age. MAPS programs are made possible by contributions from ASMJC, the MJC Foundation and the MJC STEM program.
For more information about the MAPS program visit the website http://maps.events.mjc.edu, or the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Modesto-Area-Partners-in-Science/244618054801.