July 5 John Grunsfeld Public Lecture

Big Science Questions

Kids! Meet the Astronaut and Hubble Space Telescope Repairman – Lobby of Paepcke Auditorium –
5:15 pm

Lecture – Paepcke Auditorium
6:00 pm

Speaker – John Grunsfeld, NASA

Born in Chicago, Grunsfeld received his Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980 and his Master of Science and PhD in physics from the University of Chicago in 1984 and 1988, respectively. He is presently NASA's Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate.

Grunsfeld held academic positions as visiting scientist at the University of Tokyo's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science from 1980–81; graduate research assistant at the University of Chicago from 1981–85; NASA Graduate Student Fellow at the University of Chicago from 1985–87; Grainger Postdoctoral Fellow in Experimental Physics at the University of Chicago from 1988–89; and senior research fellow at the California Institute of Technology from 1989–92.

Grunsfeld reported to NASA's Johnson Space Center in 1992 for a year of training and became qualified for flight selection as a mission specialist. A veteran of five space flights, including three missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope – STS–103 in Dec. 1999, STS–109 in March 2002, and STS–125 in May 2009 – he has logged over 835 hours in space, including nearly 60 hours of Extravehicular Activity during eight space walks. He served as the NASA Chief Scientist detailed to NASA Headquarters in 2003–2004, where he helped develop the President's Vision for Space Exploration.

His research has covered X–ray and gamma–ray astronomy, high–energy cosmic ray studies, and development of new detectors and instrumentation. Grunsfeld has conducted observations of the far–ultraviolet spectra of faint astronomical objects and the polarization of ultraviolet light coming from stars and distant galaxies.


Big Science Questions

The NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has played a significant part to explore and understand science on Earth and in space. SMD has four major science areas (Planetary Science, Earth Science, Heliophysics, and Astrophysics) requiring view from space. SMD has a global impact on humanity’s understanding of our place in the universe. SMD’s programs are driven by scientific merit, and we seek community involvement in program development and communication of the resulting discoveries.

SMD asks these fundamental questions:
1) How and why are Earth’s climate and the environment changing?
2) How and why does the Sun vary and affect Earth and the rest of the solar system?
3) How do planets and life originate?
4) How does the universe work, and what are its origin and destiny?
5) Are we alone?

SMD’s research and discoveries help us to understand the fundamental science questions about Earth and space science.