UND Space Studies hosts colloquium series focusing on Human Flyby Mission to Mars

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News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences


Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor Mike Gaffey is the series' kickoff presenter

The University of North Dakota Department of Space Studies kicks off its spring 2014 Colloquium Series with a presentation by Mike Gaffey, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, UND Space Studies. This semester's series focuses on the Human Flyby Mission to Mars. Space Studies is part of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Gaffey, a planetary geologist, is the recipient of both the Meteoritical Society's Leonard Medal and the Geological Society of America's G. K. Gilbert Award for outstanding contributions to the fields of planetary geology and the science of meteoritics. He was the first presenter in the spring 2013 Colloquium Series with a lecture about National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) DAWN mission to Asteroid Vesta.

Topic: "Mars Science during a Human Flyby Mission"

Date: Monday, Jan. 27

Time: 4 p.m.

Location: Ryan Hall, Room 111

About the topic:

Spacecraft flybys of planets have initiated virtually every planetary exploration project, from the first lunar flyby by the USSR's Luna 1 and Luna 3 in 1959, which produced images of the moon's far side for the first time through the upcoming July 14 flyby of the Pluto system by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft (which was launched in 2006). Inspiration Mars, nonprofit foundation that encourages exploration of space, has proposed sending a two-person crew on a round trip flyby mission to Mars. Adding a human component to a Mars flyby mission offers unique opportunities and limitations to the science aspects of such a mission.

Gaffey's talk will focus on an assessment of the Mars-related science that could be incorporated into the proposed mission.

About the speaker:

Mike Gaffey joined UND's Department of Space Studies in July 2001. Prior to that, he was professor of geology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.) from 1984 to 2001. He was a research professor at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics, University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, Hawaii) from 1977 to 1984. Following his Ph.D. research, Gaffey was a post-doctoral researcher in the Planetary Astronomy Laboratory at MIT from 1974 to 1977.

Gaffey's research focuses on the study of asteroids in order to better understand the formation and early evolution of the Solar System. Gaffey also is a participating scientist in NASA's DAWN spacecraft mission.

Gaffey is an expert on asteroids in general. His work with Earth-based telescopes in the 1980's and 1990's resulted in a compositional map of Asteroid Vesta.