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NEXT: Eyes on the Universe

Thursday, May 30, 2013, 7:00pm - 8:30pm
The Crawford Family Forum 474 South Raymond Avenue Pasadena, CA 91105 Map and directions
The greatest advances in astronomy since Copernicus and Galileo are being made right now. Find out Live from KPCC's Crawford Family.
The greatest advances in astronomy since Copernicus and Galileo are being made right now. Find out Live from KPCC's Crawford Family.

Dark Matter, dark energy, the discovery of life's ingredients among the stars.  The greatest advances in astronomy since Copernicus and Galileo are being made right now.  New and spectacularly powerful telescopes may soon reveal the universe's greatest secrets. And the scientists and engineers behind some of these gargantuan instruments are based in Pasadena! We’ll talk about the Thirty Meter Telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), NuSTAR - NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, the Giant Magellan Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope. Join our NEXT science series host, Mat Kaplan, and his guests as we learn how this amazing technology is changing our understanding of the cosmos. 

The Thirty Meter Telescope will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is the largest astronomical project in existence. ALMA is a single telescope of revolutionary design, composed initially of 66 high precision antennas located on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile. Thanks to its high resolution and sensitivity, ALMA will open an entirely new "window" on the universe, allowing scientists to unravel longstanding and important astronomical mysteries, in search of our cosmic origins.

NuSTAR - NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array mission, has deployed the first orbiting telescopes to focus light in the high energy X-ray (6 - 79 keV) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. During a two-year primary mission phase, NuSTAR will map selected regions of the sky in order to take a census of collapsed stars and black holes of different sizes by surveying regions surrounding the center of own Milky Way Galaxy and performing deep observations of the extragalactic sky;  map material in young supernova remnants to understand how stars explode and how elements are created; and study the most extreme active galaxies hosting supermassive black holes.

The Giant Magellan Telescope will be one of the next class of super giant earth-based telescopes that promises to revolutionize our view and understanding of the universe. It will be operational in about 10 years and will be located in Chile. The GMT has a unique design that offers several advantages. It is a segmented mirror telescope that employs seven of today's largest stiff monolith mirrors as segments. The GMT will have a resolving power 10 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity. The longer wavelengths enable the Webb telescope to look much closer to the beginning of time and to hunt for the unobserved formation of the first galaxies, as well as to look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today. The project is working to a 2018 launch date.


Mat Kaplan: host of KPCC’s science series, “NEXT: People | Science | Tomorrow;” host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society


Richard Ellis, Ph.D.:  Steele Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology; astronomer and member of the Thirty Meter Telescope Board.

Fiona Harrison, Ph.D.: Principal Investigator for NuSTAR, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array; Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology

Juna Kollmeier, Ph.D.:  Astronomer at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Pasadena.

Kartik Sheth, Ph.D.: ALMA Commissioning & Science Verification Liaison, ALMA/NRAO, 2009-2011.  ALMA is the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array; Associate Astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). 



“NEXT: People | Science | Tomorrow “ --  the Crawford Family Forum’s  series on the convergence of science, technology and society - an exploration of the future of civilization, the human species, and our place in the universe.