Latest News


  • NASA SCIENTISTS SHARE LATEST PLUTO INFORMATION IN FEBRUARY AS PART OF SPECIAL VALENTINE’S WEEK EVENT

    NASA SCIENTISTS SHARE LATEST PLUTO INFORMATION IN FEBRUARY AS PART OF SPECIAL VALENTINE’S WEEK EVENT

    January 19, 2018

    Team members from NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt will be at the Cosmosphere in February for PlutoPalooza—a two-day celebration of exploration that features free public presentations, a star-gazing evening, a teacher workshop, and a chance to hear directly from mission scientists and engineers, two of whom have special hometown connections to Kansas.

    On Wednesday, February 14, at 7 p.m., a lively TED talk-style presentation will include stories from the mission’s scientists and stunning images from the spacecraft’s flight through the Pluto system. Since this is Valentine’s Day, the researchers will explain just how the spectacular giant heart on Pluto was formed, and why they think the dwarf planet is still geologically active despite being so far from the Sun.

    On Thursday, February 15, the Cosmosphere’s monthly Coffee @ the Cosmo 9 a.m. presentation will offer attendees the opportunity to chat informally with the NASA mission team members.

    That evening, from 7 to 9 p.m., a stargazing event titled Starry Night: PlutoPalooza will take place at Hobart-Detter field in Carey Park with members of the New Horizons team and Science Educators from the Cosmosphere. Viewing equipment will be available.

    For more information on these events, please contact the Cosmosphere Box Office at 620.662.2305 or 800.397.0330.


    The New Horizons team who will be on hand to share both the science and behind-the-scenes personal stories of the mission will be:

    GLEN FOUNTAIN served as the Project Manager for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto from 2004 until 2016, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, MD. Glen received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Kansas State University in 1965 and 1966, respectively. He was a key part of the small team that began developing a Pluto mission concept in early 2001, led the engineering team during the initial work, and recruited many of the key engineers who later developed the actual mission. After launch, Mr. Fountain oversaw all flight operations, including the successful science campaign at Jupiter in February 2007, and guided the tasks that carried the mission through eight more years of flight and the eventual historic encounter with Pluto in July 2015. He has received numerous NASA group achievement awards, and in 2007 received NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Award. In 2015 he was presented with the AIAA/Space X Award for Technical Excellence. Glen maintains a home in Arlington, KS.

    KELSI SINGER is a Research Scientist in the Boulder office of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and a Co-Investigator on the New Horizons Geology and Geophysics team. Her research involves geological mapping of planetary surfaces, including the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, Earth’s Moon, Pluto, and Charon. She studies many different geological features, including faults, impact craters, cryovolcanoes (ice volcanoes), and giant landslides. She joined New Horizons as a postdoctoral researcher in 2014 and is helping with observation planning for the upcoming encounter with the small Kuiper belt object known as “MU69.” Dr. Singer was part of the successful July 17th 2017 occultation campaign in Argentina which captured the small, faint shadow of MU69 as it passed in front of a distant star. (As mentioned previously, Kelsi lived in Topeka KS through 9th grade.)

    JOEL PARKER is a Director in SwRI’s Boulder office, which is ground zero for the New Horizons science team. He started his astronomical life studying massive stars in other galaxies, but eventually brought his attention closer to home, using big telescopes on the ground and orbiting the Earth to observe the stuff that zips around our neighborhood: comets, asteroids, the Moon, and – of course – Pluto and its relatives in the Kuiper Belt. Joel is Project Manager of the spacecraft’s “Alice” spectrograph, which uses ultraviolet spectra for astronomical studies including analysis of the surfaces and atmospheres of Pluto and its moons. He is a musician and actor, and a producer and host for the science show “How on Earth” on radio station KGNU in Boulder/Denver.

    ALICE BOWMAN, the New Horizons Mission Operations Manager (“MOM”) at APL, leads the team that controls the spacecraft, now more than 3.7 billion miles from Earth. She’ll describe the teamwork, practice and resilience under pressure that has led to New Horizons’ continuing success. Her love of space exploration started as a child, saving newspaper clippings of the moon landing and other planetary visits. She pursued a degree in Physics and Chemistry to satisfy her curiosity of figuring out how things work and how to fix them. Prior to her job operating spacecraft, she worked in the fields of computer modeling, drug research (at the California Institute of Technology), and long-wave detector research, in part for the Pentagon’s U.S. Space Command. In her time away from work, she and her husband lead a community jam session twice a month and play in a bluegrass band.

Upcoming Events

  • Sky Watch: Free Public Sky Observing
    January 20
    More Details
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Community Reception
    January 21
    More Details
  • Space Out Saturday: Diversity in Science
    February 16
    More Details
  • Sky Watch: Free Public Sky Observing

    Date: Sunday, January 20, 2019 9:30 PM – 11:59 PM
    Location:Grassy lot south of the Cosmosphere.

    Bring your lawn chairs (and blankets and hot cocoa!) for a free Public Sky Observing Sunday, January 20 beginning at 9:30 PM in the grassy lot south of the Cosmosphere.

    The real showstopper happens in the evening sky with a total lunar eclipse on January 20. It’s been several years since North America has seen a total lunar eclipse so this will be a real treat to start the New Year. The full moon begins entering the outer, fainter part of Earth’s shadow, the penumbra, at about 8:36 pm in the eastern sky. While this is the beginning of the eclipse it’s difficult to notice a change in the Moon’s appearance due to the faintness of the shadow. An hour later, around 9:40 pm the Moon enters the umbra, the darker inner part of Earth’s shadow. This is when a distinct change in the Moon’s appearance begins as our natural satellite begins to darken.

    During maximum eclipse, at 11:12 pm, the Moon glows a reddish color as Earth’s atmosphere acts like a big lens, refracting sunlight onto the lunar surface. The Moon exits the umbral shadow around 12:40 am and the penumbral shadow about 1:48 am, making the entire event over 5 hours. You can easily observe the lunar eclipse with just your eyes, but binoculars or a telescope will enhance the view.

    We will be using our giant, 16-inch diameter telescope or feel free to bring your own telescopes as well!

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Community Reception

    Date: Monday, January 21, 2019 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
    Location:Cosmosphere Lobby

    You're invited to the Cosmosphere for a FREE community reception in honor of MLK Jr. Day on Monday, January 21 beginning at 4:30 pm.

    Enjoy performances from local musicians and dancers as well as hear from special guest speaker, Dr. Andrew Williams, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Kansas. He will speak about an all-female, African-American robotics group he started called Spelbots and the importance of diversity in STEM education and careers.

    Light refreshments will be served.

  • Space Out Saturday: Diversity in Science

    Date: Saturday, February 16, 2019 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
    Location:Cosmosphere Lobby

    THIS MONTH'S SUBJECT: Diversity in Science: How do you become an astronaut? Young explorers will make a list of what an astronaut needs in space and then dress up like an astronaut with photo-ops!

    Family day at the Cosmosphere with free programming for kids – from little tikes to grade school. Join us every third Saturday for our FREE kid-friendly, fun and educational Space Out Saturday! Plus: Don't miss our guided tours at 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.* (*Hall of Space admission required. Reno County residents are FREE.)

    INNOVATOR'S WORKSHOP (LOBBY)
    10:00 am – 1:00 pm

    Open to all, recommended for ages 5-10
    Unique, fun, and educational experiences! Explore science, technology, engineering, and math with exciting hands-on demonstrations and activities.

    STORYTIME (LOBBY)
    11:00 am

    Open to all, recommended for ages 5 years or younger
    Excitement ensues with this fun and educational storytime!

    SPACE TREK* (LOBBY)
    1:00 pm

    Open to all, recommended for ages 5-10
    Adventures await! Take a special tour designed to inspire and engage our future astronauts and engineers. (*Hall of Space admission required. Reno County residents are FREE.)

    SPACE OUT SATURDAYS ARE OFFERED EVERY 3RD SATURDAY AT THE COSMOSPHERE, AND ARE FREE TO THE PUBLIC.

View All Events

Media Contact
×