Dordt College News

NASA astronomer here Nov. 12

November 1, 2003

A NASA astronomer, Dr. Dana Backman, will discuss “The Search for Earth-like Planets Around Other Suns, ” on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m., in the Dordt College Science Building lecture hall SB101.

Dr. Backman works at NASA's Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., where he is associate director of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. He is also in a working group of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute. In 1998, Backman used a 300-ton Keck telescope with the first working “heat camera” to discover and photograph a disk of planet-forming material around the star HR 4796, about 230 light years away from the earth.

Dr. Backman’s research interests include observation of planetary material around nearby stars and within our own solar system, the study of the evolution of young solar-type stars and the search for planetary habitability zones.

Currently on leave from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, Dr. Backman received his B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his M.S. and PhD. from the University of Hawaii. He is also a member of a Christian astronomers organization.

This unique opportunity to hear him speak in Sioux Center is free and open to the public, thanks to the American Astronomical Society and funding provided by the Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureships in Astronomy Endowment Fund.

For more information, contact Dr. Arnold Sikkema at 722-6306.

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