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Space Frontiers Lecture Series


Rice University has a long and accomplished history of conducting scientific research of direct benefit and interest to our nation. Its high academic standing and its location in Houston, global energy capital and home of NASA and the largest medical center in the world, makes it a natural leader in a number of areas of scientific importance.

One of our goals is to create a multidisciplinary program of education and research in space-related science, technology and policy at Rice. This will be done in partnership and collaboration with local institutions and businesses, with an emphasis on providing an enhanced educational experience for our students that will propel them to the forefront of their respective fields.

We are starting this program with a public lecture series, The Houston Spaceport Frontier Lectures, designed to introduce our students and the general public to the wide array of issues involved in the pursuit of an advanced presence in space: international policy, technology innovation, commercialization, biological impacts, space science, etc.

This website provides the direct point of contact for information regarding this lecture series. We welcome your participation in the Houston Spaceport Frontier Lecture Series and will happily entertain suggestions on topics for future lectures.



Voyager at 40: Opening up the solar system.

Thursday November 30, 2017

Keck Hall 100
Reception at 6:30pm – Valhalla Beer Garden

Paul Schenk – Staff Scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute


Forty years ago, twin spacecraft, the most advanced of their day, set out on a 12-year journey to explore the vast outer solar system. The resulting cascade of discovery from Jupiter to Neptune fundamentally reshaped our perception of planets and revealed the complexity of planetary worlds. The giant planets were vigorously active, their ring systems proved to be extremely complex, their moons bizarre and in some cases geologically active even today. Later missions like Galileo and Cassini built on these discoveries, and we now understand that water-rich “ocean worlds” are commonplace, some of which could be potentially habitable. Even today, amateur scientists are reexamining the thousands of Voyager images to create new mosaics and movies from the data. It is difficult to imagine today but virtually none of this was even suspected 40 years ago.

Questions? Contact Andrea Zorbas at zorbas@rice.edu.

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Our next scheduled lecture: January 2018