Public Lectures

The public lectures will take place in Guggenheim 133 (Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall). Please refer to the map on the right for directions and parking facilities.

The lecture schedule is outlined below, further details will be added soon. You can also watch our past lectures online or download our current poster through the links below.

Exploration of Enceladus: Past, Present and Future

Morgan Cable, NASA JPL

Tuesday, March 26



The Cassini Mission revealed Saturn’s moon Enceladus to be a dynamic world teeming with astrobiological potential. Future mission concepts range from plume flythrough orbiters to impact probes to crevasse-crawling robots, and include payload elements meant to explore the habitability of this fascinating moon and search for life. We will discuss these various mission concepts and their science objectives, building on the legacy of Cassini, as we explore the path to Enceladus.

Robotic Explorers for Icy Worlds

Tom Nordheim, NASA JPL

Tuesday, March 26



The outer solar system contains a large number of icy bodies, some of which are believed to host large sub-surface oceans of liquid water. Some examples of these potential ocean worlds include Jupiter's moons Europa and Ganymede and Saturn's moon Enceladus. These bodies are prime targets in our search for life beyond Earth. However, exploration of these bodies will require new approaches to robotic planetary exploration. We will discuss robotic platforms for future exploration of ocean worlds, including the Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration (BRUIE), a novel type of under-ice rover developed by scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

PUFFER: NASA’s Pop-Up Origami Rover

Jean-Pierre de la Croix and JaAkko Karras, NASA JPL

Wednesday, March 27



Meet PUFFER—NASA's pop-up origami rover. Currently, rover missions face serious limitations in extreme terrain. A rover like Curiosity is just too valuable to risk driving into a crater or upending on rough ground. PUFFER was created to work in parallel with larger rovers (or deployed off landers) when the landscape becomes too dangerous. PUFFER has been tested in some of Earth's most challenging environments, and its designers at JPL hope to see it hitching a ride to new destinations in the solar system sometime soon.

Terrain Agnostic Mobility for Ocean Worlds


Wednesday, March 27



Rugged or uncharted terrain pose serious challenges on the mobility of robotic platforms. This talk discusses concepts for such environments that were recently developed at JPL. Among others, we will take a closer look at SPARROW, a steam propelled autonomous retrieval robot for icy worlds, and RoboSimian, a simian-inspired robot for disaster relief that competed in the DARPA robotic challenge.

Solar Gravity Lens Mission to Image Planets of Distant Stars

Thomas Heinsheimer, Aerospace

Thursday, March 28



In a new development in the search for potentially habitable planets far beyond our solar system, JPL and Aerospace are conducting a study to further develop an innovative deep-space concept that relies on a solar gravity lens (SGL) to enable enhanced viewing of exoplanets. According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, light traveling through space will bend if it passes near sufficiently massive objects. This means that distant light will bend around the periphery of the sun, eventually converging toward a focal region as if it had passed through a lens. The SGL mission would send a swarm of small spacecraft to that region to view the focused light. SGL requires placement of an array of detectors that starts to observe the light from exoplanets once they arrive at a distance of 550 astronomical units (AU) away from Earth. To get to that solar gravity line, the swarm of spacecraft will use solar sails to fly out of the solar system at a velocity of over 100 km per second. The SGL would provide 100-billion optical magnification, allowing it to show details as small as 10 kilometers across – similar to being able to spot something the size of New York City on an exoplanet.

From Viking to InSight:  40 Years of Planetary Exploration

David Murrow, Lockheed Martin

Thursday, March 28



Tremendous progress has been made in space exploration technology over the past 40 years and as one of the big aerospace companies, Lockheed Martin has been at the forefront of this development. This talk will outline selected missions from 40 years of planetary exploration, from the legendary Viking Project to the recently landed InSight spacecraft.

Final Presentations


Friday, March 29



Both student teams present the mission concept they developed during the week in collaboration with experts from NASA, academia and the aerospace industry. Each talk will outline one first order design of a mission to explore the south polar region of Enceladus with a collection of small landers, with the goal to assess the habitability of this ocean world.

Team Explorer


Team Voyager