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Current Missions

  • 01/19/2021
  • 03/02/2021
  • 6 sessions
  • 01/19/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EST)
  • 01/26/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EST)
  • 02/02/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EST)
  • 02/16/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EST)
  • 02/23/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EST)
  • 03/02/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EST)
  • All classes Online, using Zoom
  • 10

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  • For all AAA Members

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Current Missions

At this moment there are dozens of probes, orbiters, and landers throughout the solar system, probing, orbiting, and investigating other worlds. This class will survey current missions of space exploration. Which are the most cost effective? Which has the cleverest backronym? Each week we’ll discuss the missions operating in a region of the solar system and compare aspects such as delivery methods and scientific objectives. For some of the longest running missions we consider their relevance to more recent missions. Over the course of the class, we’ll build a timeline to show the duration of current missions. As we discuss details of the missions such as flight paths, instrumentation, and target worlds, we’ll need to sprinkle our discussions with some relevant topics in physics and planetary science, including gravity, energy, differentiation, and magnetic fields.


January 19 – Moon and Earth-Sun L2

Lunar orbiters LRO, ARTEMIS, Chandrayaan-2; Chang’e 4 mission. The new cool place to park your space telescope: L2.


January 26 – Inner Solar System: Sun, Mercury, Venus

Planetary missions Akatsuki and BepiColombo, and their long journeys to the inner solar system. Observing the Sun with Parker, STEREO, SOHO, and more.


February 02 – The ISS and Mars Part 1

The International Space Station: 20 years of people living in space. Robots in the Martian skies, including MRO, ExoMars and Odyssey.


February 16 – Mars Part 2

Missions currently on the Martian surface, and the new arrivals this month: Tianwen-1, Mars 2020, and Emirate Mars Mission.


February 23 – Asteroids and Jupiter

Sample-returns from asteroids: Hayabusa2 and ORIRIS-Rex. Preview of Lucy mission to Main Belt and Trojan asteroids. Juno at Jupiter.


March 02 – Giant Planets and Beyond

New Horizons’ trip to Pluto and into the Kuiper belt. Voyagers 1 and 2 from launch, to tours of the gas giants and ice giants, to interstellar space.

Location: Classes will be online using Zoom. Sign-in with an ID code given to you the weekend before the first day of class. Class recordings available during and for a time after.


Time: 7-9 PM, Tuesdays

Cost: $60, AAA Members only. Not a Member? Join for $35.

Instructor: In another time, Irene Pease shared views through her telescope with her fellow New Yorkers as their Friendly Neighborhood Astronomer, but currently hosts a weekly livestream tour of the night skies and local universe. She is producer of the Hayden Planetarium video blog, Skylight, a frequent presenter and co-host of Astronomy on Tap NYC, and the pilot of Hayden Planetarium’s Zeiss Mark IX Universarium. Irene has a degree in Physics from the University of Arizona, and currently teaches physics at York College and Yeshivah of Flatbush High School.

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