Third Installment of the Star Talk Series: Exploring Mars with Rovers

November 18, 2013
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ASX will be holding our third Star Talk on November 21 at 8pm. The speaker is Dr. Ralf Gellert, Principle Investigator of the Canadian Alpha-Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph. The talk will be given in McLennan Physical Labs (60 St George Street). The room is number 103 on the first floor. This is a FREE event and open for all ages.

Ralf Gellert writes, “Last Summer the newest Mars Rover Curiosity made a picture perfect landing in Gale Crater to investigate the habitability of Mars in the past and present.
But what does this mean in detail and how does the rover tackle this task? The talk will discuss the rover, its tools and science instruments, how they work
together, as well as how the rover is operated on a day to day basis for over a year so far.
I’m the Principle Investigator of the Canadian Alpha-Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS), an improved version of the APXS instruments on board the earlier
Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Opportunity still operates to this very day over 9 years after landing. The APXS instruments analyze the chemical composition of soils
and rocks and contribute to the overall findings of all missions. APXS data allow to connect the different landing sites together to get a global view of how Mars
developed some 3-4 Billion years ago. All the missions show that water, one of the key ingredients needed for habitability, played a major role in Martian history.
The rovers found varying conditions, acidic and recently more neutral water that could shed light on the question, if life could have developed on Mars around the
same time it did on Earth.”

In case you missed it, here is a link to the audio from the Star Talk.

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The Spectacular Deaths of Stars

October 19, 2013
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The Spectacular Deaths of Stars

ASX held our first Star Talk on September 26 at 8pm. The speaker was Dr. Chris Matzner, a University of Toronto associate professor. The talk was given in the Lash Miller building (80 St George Street) right next to McLennan Physical Labs.

Chris Matzner writes, “Although stars appear fixed in the celestial sphere, in fact they do not last forever. Our own Sun, like most stars, will burn down one day to aglowing cinder and gradually fade away. But some stars go out with a bang, lighting up the sky with their brilliant explosions. I will tour the thrilling and macabre ways stars can meet their ends, but I will also consider how stellar death enriches the Galaxy and makes the Universe fertile for life.”

In case you missed it, here is a link to the audio from the Star Talk.

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Planetary Magnetism: Unlocking the Secrets of Planetary Interiors

October 16, 2013
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ASX will be holding our second Star Talk on October 24 at 8pm. The speaker is Dr. Sabine Stanley, a Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto. The talk will be given in McLennan Physical Labs (60 St George Street). The room is number 103 on the first floor. This is a FREE event and open for all ages.

Sabine Stanley writes, “Many planetary bodies in our solar system have magnetic fields that we can observe with spacecraft instruments. These magnetic fields are generated deep in planetary interiors by complex motions in liquid conductors. Because these magnetic fields are observable outside of the planet, they can act as important probes of planetary interiors. In this talk I will describe what we know of planetary magnetic fields and how they have provided us with fundamental information about the structure, composition and evolution of planets.”

In case you missed it, here is the audio from the Star Talk.

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