Public Star Night – 27 October 2017 – Dr Eric Schindhelm – “Rosetta Mission: How to Catch a Comet “

Our guest speaker is Dr Eric Schindhelm from Ball Aerospace and the title of his talk is: “The Rosetta Mission: How to Catch a Comet”

In August 2014 the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Rosetta spacecraft arrived at the comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, providing an unprecedented look at a remnant of the early solar system.  The Philae lander made the first touch-down ever on the surface of a comet, and the Rosetta orbiter followed the comet for an additional two years in its orbit around the Sun. As the comet made its closest approach to the Sun, the instruments on board Rosetta studied the composition of the nucleus and the evolution of the coma. In this talk we will explore the relevance of comets to the formation of the solar system, how Rosetta rendezvoused with the comet, and the exciting observations taken and scientific discoveries yet to come.

Eric Schindhelm worked at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) as a liaison between scientists on NASA’s UV spectrograph (Alice) team and ESA’s Mission & Science Operations teams.  He is currently a senior engineer working in the Civil Space New Business Group at Ball Aerospace.

He received Bachelors degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Maryland, College Park, and then a Masters and PhD in Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Weather permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through our large telescope at various celestial objects. Public star nights are usually held the third Friday of each month, except July, when we are closed for annual maintenance.

If you have any questions, please call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at

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