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Lecture to feature space exploration

By Juana Jones
On November 27, 2017

Image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, ESA/NASA.

 Department at Kirkwood Community College sponsors the Mel Oliven Lecture, which is fully supported by the Mel Oliven Endowment. The endowment is in memory of Mel Oliven, a former physics instructor at Kirkwood. 

The Mel Oliven Lecture began in 1977 and over the years has covered a wide selection of topics ranging from the environment to Armageddon. 

Dean of Math & Science Marvin Bausman stated, “This year the topic is space exploration which seems to be having somewhat of a resurgence in popularity over the past few years due to the recent successes by NASA and others.” 

Specifically, this year, the lecture will be on Juno’s Exploration of Jupiter and will be presented by Dr. William Kurth, a scientist and member of the Radio and Plasma Wave group at the University of Iowa’s Department of Physics & Astronomy. 

Kurth said he has been part of many space research teams, ranging from the Hawkeye spacecraft team in 1974 to Juno in 2017. Kurth began college in 1969 where he then became involved in implementing an instrument for the Hawkeye spacecraft and it was during this time that he was able to meet Mel Oliven. 

Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree Kurth said he made the decision to stay and pursue his masters and Ph.D. so he could see what new information and findings would be brought back by Hawkeye. During that time, he also worked on implementing research equipment for the two Voyager spacecrafts, which launched in 1977. 

On the completion of his Ph.D., Kurth said he asked the college if he would be able to stay so he could see what information Voyager would bring back. His request was granted and he continues to do this to this day. 

During the Mel Oliven Lecture, Kurth said his goals are to “introduce and familiarize the audience with the Juno Mission and talk about the techniques used to gather data.” 

He added, “I’ll also discuss radio waves produced by Jupiter.” 

The lecture also will cover information about the importance of Juno’s discoveries, according to Kurth. 

The lecture will take place Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 11:15 a.m. - 12:10 p.m. in Ballantyne Auditorium.

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