Dr. John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder will deliver the fall Sherlin Lecture at the Community College of Aurora on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m. Dr. Spencer will present “The New Horizons Mission to Pluto and Beyond.” The event, which will be held in the Fine Arts Building Forum on the CentreTech Campus, 16000 E. CentreTech Parkway in Aurora, is free and open to the public.
Following the lecture, CCA’s observatory will be open for free public viewing. All are invited to come out and see various deep sky objects from the only public observatory in Aurora.
Spencer is an Institute Scientist at Southwest Research Institute’s Department of Space Studies in Boulder. A native of England, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Cambridge in 1978, and a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona in 1987. He spent four years in postdoctoral positions at the University of Hawaii before joining the staff of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1991. He worked there until he joined Southwest Research Institute in 2004.
He specializes in studies of the moons of the outer planets, particularly the four large “Galilean” satellites of Jupiter. He is interested in the active volcanoes and atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Io, and in the active ice eruptions of Saturn's moon Enceladus. He has published research on Mars, asteroids, Pluto, and Neptune’s moon Triton, and is a science team member on the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt.
His observational work has included discovery of several major volcanic eruptions on Io, the first observations of Io’s volcanic plumes with the Hubble Space Telescope; discovery of sulfur gas in Io’s plumes; co-discovery that Io’s atmosphere is highly asymmetrical; co-discovery of ice volcanic activity on Saturn’s moon Enceladus; and co-discovery of oxygen on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.