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ILI Speaker Series focuses on modern technology, the Hubble, and science careers
April 16, 2010
This spring, the Innovation and Leadership Institute’s Speaker Series brought three distinguished speakers to campus to share their insights on innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership.
On Wednesday, April 7, 2010, Capitol welcomed Dr. Susana Deustua, AURA Term Scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). Dr. Deustua provided an overview of current events surrounding the Hubble Telescope and some of the specific projects she is working on.
Since the earliest days of astronomy scientists have used technology to see more, see farther, see deeper. The Hubble Space Telescope's launch in 1990 sped humanity to one of its greatest advances on that journey. Hubble is a telescope that orbits Earth in a position above the atmosphere that distorts and blocks the light that reaches our planet, giving it a view of the universe that typically far surpasses that of ground-based telescopes.
Hubble is one of NASA's most successful and long-lasting science missions. It has beamed hundreds of thousands of images back to Earth, shedding light on many of the great mysteries of astronomy. Its gaze has helped determine the age of the universe, the identity of quasars, and the existence of dark energy.
Another representative from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), Dr. Denise Smith, was welcomed on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 from the Office of Public Outreach. She focused on the new telescope technology being used to study star formations in space. Using combined images from all three NASA telescopes (Spitzer, Hubble, and Chandra) astronomers can observe different aspects of the galaxies, including the “hottest” and “coolest” stars.
“Until we placed modern telescopes in space, there were things going on in other galaxies we had no clue about,” said Dr. Smith. “Now we can use infrared and ultraviolet technology to break down the particles of dust and clouds of gas surrounding areas where stars are actually forming.”
Smith also spoke about the Webb telescope being launched in 2014; this telescope will be the successor to Hubble and will be able to detect fainter objects than ever before, completing yet another endless circle of technology and questions raised about our universe. “The best of modern technology is used to answer questions we ask about the universe, which then creates new questions, which are answered by even newer technology,” she said.
Dr. Smith also spoke about the increasing numbers of women and minorities who are entering science fields and the importance of these people in science. “It is an exciting time to be an astronomer, a woman or minority in science, or really anyone in science,” she said. “I encourage anyone and everyone who is interested in science to get involved.”