MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Michelle Viotti
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2000
JPL LECTURE WILL REVEAL NOVEL PLANET-FINDING TECHNIQUES
"Interferometry: Seeing New Worlds" is a public lecture
that will explain how researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory are developing innovative technologies to look for
planets around distant stars.
Dr. Michael Shao, director of the Interferometry Center of
Excellence at JPL and the project scientist for NASA's Space
Interferometry Mission, (SIM) will make the presentation, which
is part of JPL's von Karman Lecture Series, on Thursday, April 20
at JPL, and, Friday, April 21 at Pasadena City College. Both
lectures begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free, and seating is on a
first-come, first-served basis.
Detecting planets outside of our solar system is challenging
because the tiny, pale planets are typically lost from view in
the intense glare of light from their parent star.
Interferometry is a new technology that gets past this obstacle
by allowing astronomers to measure a star's position accurately
enough to detect small "wobbles" caused by the gravitational pull
of any orbiting planets. This observing method also suppresses
the light of the star so that the dim light of planets can be
JPL's Keck Interferometer and the Space Interferometry
Mission are two near-term projects that will make significant
advances in detecting planets beyond our solar system. SIM will
be one of the very first space-based opportunities to use
interferometry for seeing new worlds, potentially giving us the
first evidence of another Earth-like planet.
The lecture on April 20 is at JPL, 4800 Oak Grove Dr.,
Pasadena, off the 210 (Foothill) freeway. Detailed directions
are available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/tours/routes.html . The
April 21 lecture is at Pasadena City College's Forum at 1570 E.
More information about the von Karman Lecture Series is
available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/lecture/ .
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.