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Watson Lecture - Lunar Trailblazer: The Pioneering Small Satellite Set to Investigate Water on the Moon

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
7:30pm to 8:30pm
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Beckman Auditorium
  • Public Event

The Lunar Trailblazer mission is the first of a new type of NASA mission—small satellites for planetary exploration—and follows up on one of the most surprising discoveries of the 2000s: water on the Moon. In this talk, the mission's principal investigator, Bethany Ehlmann, professor of planetary science and director of the Keck Institute for Space Studies, will explore Lunar Trailblazer's pathbreaking goals. From a 100-kilometer-altitude polar orbit, the Lunar Trailblazer spacecraft is designed to simultaneously map the composition, temperature, and physical properties of the lunar surface in order to determine the form, abundance, and distribution of water on the Moon. This includes peering into the permanently shadowed regions within impact craters at the lunar poles to provide maps of lunar water ice. In doing so, Lunar Trailblazer will collect essential data for future human and robotic exploration of the Moon. Mission operations, which will be supported by scientists and engineers at JPL, will be conducted from the Caltech campus by IPAC with assistance from undergraduates at Caltech and Pasadena City College. Lunar Trailblazer is scheduled to launch as a rideshare with the Intuitive Machines IM-2 lander, a SpaceX launch in mid-2024.


Evening Schedule

6 p.m. — Activities and music. Food, drinks, and books available for purchase

7 p.m. — Doors open

7:30 p.m. — Talk and Q&A

8:30 p.m. — Post-talk concessions and conversation

The live event is in-person and a recording will be made available on our Youtube channel.

About the Series

For more than 100 years, the Watson Lectures have brought the wonder of Caltech research and discovery to the public.

Free and open to the public, the Watson Lecture Series offers a unique and accessible opportunity to learn more about cutting-edge science directly from Caltech's premier researchers. Come early to mingle with your neighbors over food, drink and music, as well as interactive displays related to the evening's topic. Then head inside to hear a stimulating talk and stay to ask your burning questions.

Many past Watson Lectures are available on YouTube.

For more information, please contact The Caltech Ticket Office by email at [email protected].