artist's concept of Space Infrared Telescope Facility
An upcoming mission that will study the darkest and dustiest regions in the cosmos will be explored in two free lectures to be held on Thursday, June 12, at JPL, and Friday, June 13, at Pasadena City College.

Dr. Michelle Thaller, an astronomer with NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility, will discuss the mission, which is the fourth and final of NASA's Great Observatories. Unlike its predecessors -- the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory -- the Space Infrared Telescope Facility will use sensitive infrared technology. It will unveil new information about galaxies, stars, and dusty discs around nearby stars, which may be "planetary construction zones."

It is also the first new mission under NASA's Origins program, which seeks to answer the questions: Where did we come from? Are we alone? The mission is scheduled for launch in late August.

Thaller devotes more than half her time to public education and outreach as a representative for the Space Infrared Telescope Facility and other Origins missions at JPL. She frequently visits Los Angeles Unified School District classrooms and conducts regular teacher workshops in the L.A. metropolitan area. She also writes a monthly science column for the Christian Science Monitor and has made numerous appearances on television, including KCET's Life and Times and the Discovery Channel.

Both lectures are free, open to the public and begin at 7 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The lecture at JPL, located at 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, off the Oak Grove Drive exit of the 210 (Foothill) Freeway, will be held in the von Karman Auditorium. The Friday lecture will be in Pasadena City College's Vosloh Forum, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. For more information, call (818) 354-0112 or go to , where the Thursday lecture will be webcast live and archived for later viewing.

News Media Contact

JPL/Lisa Townsend (818) 393-5464