Walt Disney’s Pinocchio is set in motion when Geppetto spots a star in the night sky and makes an improbable wish. In the ensuing 76 years, wishing on a star has become synonymous with Walt Disney’s enthusiasm for a future of infinite possibilities. An early advocate of space exploration, Walt aired the first of three space-related “science-factual” television programs in 1955. The culminating episode, “Mars and Beyond,” speculated on the chance of finding life on other planets. Today that quest continues, invigorated by the discovery of more than 2000 exoplanets by NASA’s Kepler space telescope and by a NASA initiative dedicated to the search for life beyond our solar system. Mission Scientist and astrophysicist Dr. Natalie Batalha has been at the forefront of both projects providing leadership as science strives to answer its most important question: Are we alone? Geppetto wished upon on a star and beyond all expectation, his little wooden Pinocchio became a real boy. Join us as we talk with Dr. Batalha about Kepler’s important discoveries, the prospects for future missions, and what wonders we might find out there among the stars.
DATE & TIME
Sat, Sep 10 | 1pm
$18 members | $20 non-members | $12 student & youth members | $15 student & youth non-members
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Dr. Natalie Batalha
Dr. Natalie Batalha is an astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center and the Mission Scientist for NASA’s Kepler Mission. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of California (UC), Berkeley, and a Doctoral degree in astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz. Dr. Batalha has been involved with the Kepler Mission since the proposal stage and has contributed to many different aspects of the science, from studying the stars themselves to detecting and understanding the planets they harbor. She led the analysis that yielded the discovery in 2011 of Kepler-10b—the mission’s first confirmation of a rocky planet outside our solar system. Today, she leads the effort to understand planet populations in the galaxy based on Kepler discoveries. In 2015, Dr. Batalha joined the leadership team of a new NASA initiative dedicated to the search for evidence of life beyond the Solar System. NASA’s Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) brings teams from multiple disciplines together to understand the diversity of worlds. Kepler has demonstrated that earth-size planets abound in the galaxy. NExSS will lead NASA’s efforts to understand which are most likely to harbor life.