MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Contact: Jane Platt (818) 354-0880

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 17, 2000

JPL PUBLIC LECTURES ZOOM IN ON ASTEROIDS AND COMETS

       Comets and asteroids that may pass close to Earth are explored in free, public lectures to be held at Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Thursday, Jan. 20, and at Pasadena City College on Friday, Jan. 21.

       Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis for the lectures, titled "Near-Earth Objects -- Finding Them Before They Find Us."

       The featured speaker is Dr. Donald Yeomans, a senior research scientist at JPL who is a renowned expert on comets and asteroids, the leftovers from the formation of our solar system. Yeomans manages NASA's Near-Earth Object Office, is project scientist of the MUSES-CN mission to explore the surface of an asteroid, and is on the science teams for the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission and two planned comet missions. Yeomans has received numerous awards, and the asteroid 2956 Yeomans was named in honor of his professional achievements.

       "These comets and asteroids that can approach Earth can be either friend or foe," Yeomans said. "They have played a key role in the development of life on Earth and their collisions with Earth have wiped out many developing species. While sometimes threatening, these near-Earth objects can also supply the valuable raw materials necessary for the future colonization of the inner solar system."

       The lecture at JPL, located at 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, near the Oak Grove Dr. exit of the 210 (Foothill) Freeway, will be held in the von Karman Auditorium. On Friday, the lecture will be held in Pasadena City College's Forum at 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. For more information, call (818) 354-5011.

       JPL, a NASA center, is a division of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena.

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