Free public lecture 'Protecting the Earth from Killer Asteroids' on Feb. 15

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A free public lecture titled "Protecting the Earth from Killer Asteroids" will take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 15, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The speaker will be Rachel Stevenson, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The event is the third of four lectures in the 2014 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Strategies for Survival on Planet Earth." No registration is required. The lectures take place on four consecutive Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building.

During the lecture, Stevenson will describe her research with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's NEOWISE team to discover and characterize dangerous asteroids that are potentially hazardous to life on Earth. Large asteroids crashing into Earth have caused catastrophic damage, including the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other species. Since the NEOWISE team began searching in 2010, it has discovered more than 34,000 previously unknown asteroids and over 130 near-Earth objects, some of which have been identified as having the potential to strike Earth.

The NEOWISE team contributes to NASA's Near-Earth Objects program, which tracks comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth's neighborhood. More information about NASA's asteroid-tracking efforts is online at http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/neo/life.html.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by phone at 814-863-8453 or by email to jms1140@psu.edu. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures and a list of other lectures in the 2014 series, is available online at science.psu.edu/frontiers.

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Last Updated February 12, 2014