Professor David Southwood
*PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE OF VENUE. DETAILS OF THE REST OF THE 2012/13 LECTURE SERIES TO FOLLOW*
Date: Tuesday 9th October 2012
Time: 13:00-14:00 (doors open 12:30)
*Location*: Geological Society Lecture Theatre
More than 30 years ago a group of American and European scientists started planning a space mission to orbit Saturn and to land on its moon, Titan. 15 years ago, the spacecraft and its lander were launched. After another 7 years were in orbit around Saturn. The Titan landing took place successfully in 2005. However the mothership continues to orbit Saturn exploring what is a very complex planetary system of moons, rings, dust, magnetic fields around the planet as well as the observing the mysteries of the planetary atmosphere. The mission ends in 2017 with a dramatic plunge that is a final exploration of the planet's magnetism and gravity but will end with the spacecraft's destruction. The speaker will describe both the scientific and technical highlights of the 30 years as well as some of the low points in what has been an odyssey for the team involved and a landmark in international space cooperation.
David Southwood is the President of the Royal Astronomical Society. He is a Senior Research investigator at Imperial College London and former Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency. He led the building of the Imperial College magnetometer for the Cassini Saturn Orbiter spacecraft and, at ESA, was responsible for the Huygens lander team.