WWU faculty to help celebrate Pluto flyby

Western Washington University assistant professor Melissa Rice and lecturers Regina Barber DeGraaff and Mike Kraft will be involved in a special event celebrating NASA's flyby of Pluto on July 14.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at The Spark Museum in downtown Bellingham from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 14.

After a nine-year interplanetary voyage, New Horizons will be the first spacecraft in human history to provide a close-up view of the solar system’s largest dwarf planet. Tuesday's event coincides with the moment when NASA expects to receive confirmation that the New Horizons spacecraft survived its close encounter with Pluto. This signal is expected at 6:02 p.m. and will be the first communication from the spacecraft after 24 hours of time dedicated solely to science observations. The event will provide a video stream into NASA’s Mission Control for this period.

The Pluto Revealed event also will feature a live taping of the podcast and KMRE-LP 102.3 FM radio show, "Spark Science," of which DeGraaff is the host. The show will feature special guests Melissa Rice and Mike Kraft, planetary scientists from Western Washington University, and Casey Dreier, advocacy director for The Planetary Society, the world’s largest nonprofit space organization.

The event will also feature multimedia presentations and displays about the New Horizons mission, along with info on the historical background of NASA’s previous attempts to explore Pluto. Multiple opportunities for audience interaction and Q&A will be available.

Also at the event will be the latest and greatest images of the surface of Pluto before the close encounter period, along with expert scientific analysis.

Seating is limited.