Moon and Astronaut Teapot

Yesterday, the last Wednesday of the month, was Science on Tap night. Once a month, during the school year, WashU profs come before the beer swilling public and deliver a lecture on their research. Last night’s talk was given by Dr. Bradley Jolliff and was entitled, The New Moon: Recent and Future Exploration of Earth’s Nearest Neighbor.

Much of his time was devoted to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Dr. Jolliff is on the satellite’s camera science team. For eight years, this system has been photographing the moon, mapping and remapping the same locales under different lighting conditions and from different angles, assembling the most detailed record of lunar features. Also presented was a survey of other satellite programs, both US and international. One such US program (LCROSS) worked in conjunction with the LRO. Like in the pictured teapot, a booster was slammed into the Cabeus crater at the moon’s south pole. The ejected dust cloud was spectrally analyzed, looking for water.

Jolliff’s lecture was unusually well attended. We had six people at our table. Plus, I saw several former colleagues. As near as I could tell the beer hall was full, providing ample justification for the series’ move to Kirkwood’s larger venue. It was an enjoyable evening, hanging with all the other science nerds.

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