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Yvonne Pendleton: The Nature of Interstellar Organics and Their Relationship to Ices

August 17, 2010 @ 9:00 am PDT

Dr. Yvonne Pendleton will be the ninth speaker in NLSI’s Director’s Seminar Series. She will be speaking on the interstellar organics and their relationship to ices.

Thank you to all who joined the ninth NLSI Director’s Seminar. You can view an archive of the talk here.

See the posted description for the talk below.

The ninth speaker for the NLSI Director’s Seminar Series will be NLSI’s new Director, Dr. Yvonne Pendleton. Learn more about Dr. Pendleton joining the Institute here.

The Nature of Interstellar Organics and Their Relationship to Ices


Carbonaceous materials are a primary component of interstellar dust, forming in the outflow of carbon stars and the diffuse interstellar medium (DISM). Over time, the low density DISM is swept into dense molecular clouds, the principal formation sites and repositories of most interstellar molecules. Organic compounds created in these clouds are the first step towards the complex materials that help to make planets habitable. Ground- and space-based telescopic observations trace interstellar organics from the diffuse to dense interstellar clouds, revealing that organic material in the diffuse ISM is predominantly hydrocarbon in nature, possessing little N or O, with the C distributed between the aromatic and aliphatic forms. A remarkable similarity between the hydrocarbons in dust in our Galaxy to that of distant galaxies, indicates that this organic component of the DISM is widespread and may be an important universal reservoir of prebiotic organic carbon. Spectroscopy of background stars seen through quiescent dust in clouds with no star formation activity reveals that chemistry occurs early-on. In fact, models of star formation might well begin with dust already coated with a fairly complex mixture of ices! Meanwhile, observations of certain asteroids, comets, interplanetary dust particles and planetary satellites present an intricate interweaving of preserved interstellar components and those that have been subsequently altered. The composition of interstellar dust grains and the evolution of dust between dense clouds (where Stars, planetary systems and a wide variety of ices form) and the diffuse interstellar medium (where stardust components are ejected), will be presented.


Dr. Yvonne Pendleton is the Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute. Pendleton joined NASA Ames in July 1979 having earned her Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Under NASA sponsored programs, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University (1981) and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of California at Santa Cruz (1987). As a research astrophysicist in the Space Science and Astrobiology Division from 1979-2005, Yvonne published 80 scientific papers and contributed significantly to our understanding of the origin and evolution of organic material in the universe. The goal of her ongoing research program is to understand the composition of the organic material found in the interstellar medium and to investigate the incorporation of the organic material from space into the early Earth environment. She is an elected fellow of the California Academy of Science and Asteroid 7165Pendleton was named in honor of her research contributions.

Appointed Chief of the Space Science and Astrobiology Division at NASA Ames Research Center in 2005, she led a scientific and technical staff of 160 people. When asked to serve as the senior advisor for research and analysis programs for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, she moved to Washington, DC from 2007-8. Returning to NASA Ames in July of 2008, Yvonne became the deputy associate director where she provided guidance and direction to several collaborative scientific and technical efforts and served as an academic Dean of Students for the several hundred students on the Ames campus each summer.

In July 2010, Dr. Pendleton was named Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute.

WHEN:Tuesday, August 17, 2010. 9:00 AM Pacific, 16:00 GMT



Please RSVP to Ricky Guest (Ricky.Guest@nasa.gov) if you will be joining by Polycom. Do not connect to the teleconference if you will be joining by Polycom.

To view the slides, connect to http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/nlsi_director_seminars/


The slides for this meeting will be presented using Adobe Connect. To join the meeting, connect to http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/nlsi_director_seminars/

The teleconference number will be displayed when joining the meeting.

Posted: Aug 4, 09:14 am


August 17, 2010
9:00 am PDT
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