Date/ Time of Talk: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 9:00AM PDT, 16:00 UTC
Presenter: James W. Head, Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University
Talk Title: “The Moon as a Touchstone for Solar System Science”
Abstract: Ever since our own Home Planet Earth and our satellite, the Moon, began to be perceived in the context of the family of planetary bodies in the Solar System, we have been able to ask significant questions about the terrestrial, or Earth-like planetary bodies that inform us of our collective past and our future. Among these fundamental questions are: Why do the terrestrial planets differ in terms of size, density, and position in the solar system? What accounts for their internal structure (crust, mantle, core), their crustal composition, and the nature of the lithosphere, the outer thermal boundary layer (continuous, or discontinuous and laterally mobile)? What accounts for the presence, absence, composition density and origin of volatiles and how do these sometimes lead to atmospheres? What is the nature, origin and fate of magnetic fields? The Earth’s Moon has been a fundamental source of information about these questions and the results have made the Moon an undisputable frame of reference for understanding the other terrestrial planets. In this NLSI Director’s seminar, discoveries and insights we have gained from the Moon from over 50 years of exploration will be highlighted, leading to several candidate future directions for science and exploration.
Biography: Prof. Head earned a B.S. from Washington and Lee U. in 1964 and his Ph.D. from Brown University in 1969. During 4 years with Bellcomm, Inc. in Washington, DC in the NASA Systems Analysis Branch, his research focus shifted to planetary geology studies relating to the Apollo Lunar Exploration Program including training of Apollo astronauts. Following a position as Interim Director of the Houston Lunar Science Institute, he joined the Brown Department of Geological Sciences as assistant professor (research) in 1973, then was promoted to full professor in 1980, named to the James Manning Chair in 1990, and in 1995 was named to the Louis and Elizabeth Scherck Professorship in Geological Sciences.