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October 8, 2010
“Volcanoes—Near, Far and Really Far Away” Lecture by NASA Scientist Ashley Gerard Davies, Oct. 27
Does life exist elsewhere in our solar system? NASA believes the best place to answer this question is Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. The best way to understand how Europa works may be through studying the massive lava lakes on a neighboring Jupiter moon, Io.
Ashley Gerard Davies, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, has traveled the world studying lava lakes. He will discuss the topic in his lecture "Volcanoes—Near, Far and Really Far Away" at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27, in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building at the Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.
The illustrated lecture, the sixth in a series of programs in 2010, is presented through a partnership between the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
According to Davies, volcanoes are evidence of a dynamic planet, an outward manifestation of interior heating. Volcanoes—agents for change—shaped the surfaces of bodies across the solar system and they are also windows into the interior of a planet—transporting material to the surface where it can be examined by instruments on spacecraft.
Prior to the exploration by the Voyager spacecraft, the moons of Jupiter were thought to be dead worlds, with all internal geological processes damped down into extinction. But the discovery of volcanism on one of these moons, Io, shows the moons to be dynamic and evolving worlds. This discovery has led to a profound change in our understanding of how the outer solar system evolved.
Davies is an expert in the remote sensing of volcanic activity. He obtained a doctorate in volcanology from Lancaster University, UK, in 1988. He joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in1994 as a post-doctoral associate and as a full-time scientist in 1996. Davies was a member of the Galileo Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer Team and is principal investigator on several studies investigating volcanic activity on Io and Earth.
Davies was a recipient of the 2005 NASA Software of the Year Award for his work on spacecraft autonomy, and is the author of "Volcanism on Io—A Comparison with Earth," the definitive guide to Io’s volcanoes.
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