January 20, 2011
The Adventure and Wonder of Space Exploration
Loren Acton, PhD
Research Professor of Physics
Montana State University
When rockets provided the possibility to carry instruments beyond the earth’s obscuring atmosphere following the Second World War, what they really carried was human curiosity. What was it like up there and out there and could we, perhaps, actually go there? I’ve had a better-than-average chance to participate in this adventure, having been born at just the right time in history. This talk will share some experiences, results and impressions of nearly a half-century of both robotic and human space exploration.
Loren Acton was born to a ranching family in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in Fergus County, Montana. An abiding interest in how everything works carried him through to a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics from Montana State and a Ph.D. in Astro-Geophysics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. His research work in solar physics took him into space for 8 days in 1985 on the Spacelab 2 shuttle mission.
B.S. (with honors), Engineering Physics, Montana State University, 1959
Ph.D., Astro-Geophysics, University of Colorado, 1965
1993-present Research Professor of Physics, Department of Physics
Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana.
1964-1993 Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratory, Palo Alto, CA.
Senior Consulting Scientist, Physical & Electronic Sciences Laboratory.
Carried out research in solar and cosmic astronomy utilizing space instrumentation.
1985 Payload Specialist on Challenger 8 space shuttle mission called SPACELAB 2. Launched July 29 (after a launch abort at T-3 seconds on July 12) and landed on August 6. This 8 day mission emphasized astronomy but the 13 experiments ranged from life sciences to high energy astrophysics.
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Astronomical Society (AAS)
International Astronomical Union (IAU)
International Academy of Astronautics (IAA)
AWARDS & HONORS
1986 Spaceflight Achievement award of American Astronautical Society
1988 Robert E. Gross award for technical excellence, Lockheed Corp
1988 Honorary Doctor of Science from Montana State University
1989 Fellow of Am. Assoc. for the Advancement of Science
1993 NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
1996 Wiley Award for meritorious research, Montana State University
2000 Honorary Doctor of Science from University of Colorado-Boulder
2000 George Ellery Hale prize of Solar Physics Div., American Astronomical Society
2002 Blue & Gold achievement award from Montana State University Alumni Association
l964-Present Principal Investigator on NASA solar research programs including 8 rocket experiments, the Mapping X-Ray Heliometer on Orbiting Solar Observatory-8, X-Ray Polychromator for the Solar Maximum Mission, and the Soft X-Ray Telescope for the Japan/US/UK YOHKOH Mission.
1988-1991 NASA Space Science and Applications Advisory Committee
1993 Founder of Solar Physics group at Montana State University
Over 200 publications in the popular and scientific literature.
More than 300 lectures to a variety of school, general public, and scientific audiences.