skip navigation

This page is designed for modern browsers. You will have a better experience with a better browser.

Print this page

First Annual Lecture Series

New Horizons - The First Mission to Pluto

View the event PHOTO GALLERY

Video - Dr. Alan Stern - NASA New Horizons' Principal Investigator -

Credit: / NASA / JHUAPL / Edited by @SteveSpaleta

The STEM Division at Victor Valley College proudly announces Victor Valley College's 1st Annual Lecture Series

When: Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Where: Victor Valley College's Performing Arts Center

New Horizons - The First Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt: Exploring Frontier Worlds

Taking your Family to Pluto!

Taking Your Family to Pluto - event poster

The first presentation in Victor Valley College's Lecture Series will mark "the coming of age" of the Victor Valley into worldwide recognition of the region's dedication to ongoing research in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Young students in this region will therefore, through the Lecture Series, participate in celebrating the possibilities of educational and career goals through the STEM Division at Victor Valley College, by embracing their area's unique contribution to exploration and discovery!

The "High Desert" is the region of Goldstone, one of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) Antenna Arrays. The antennas at Goldstone are used to uplink spacecraft commands to the most celebrated space exploration missions of NASA's unmanned planetary exploration program, and downlink the spacecraft data that has rewritten the textbooks of human understanding of our solar system.

This region is the home of The Lewis Center for Educational Research and their K-12 charter school the Academy for Academic Excellence. Students throughout the nation can command dedicated Goldstone state-of-the-art radio telescopes through their Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope project (GAVRT), and the Lewis Center's deep ties to several NASA space exploration projects, and space scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The region is also the home of Victor Valley College's Planetarium, the Lewis Center's Luz Observatory, and the High Desert Astronomical Society. STEM instructors at Victor Valley College provide the gateway to student success through exceptional instruction in computer technology and programming, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and the physical sciences. Students in the region's schools find this pathway to their education and career goals at Victor Valley College through the K16 Bridge Program. Victor Valley College physical sciences department is also the student gateway to a Jet Propulsion Laboratory internship program.

There is no better way to highlight this legacy to the region's students, than to bring the scientists who are currently participating in research that is changing our understanding of the universe around us directly to them! The STEM Division's Lecture Series will do just this by targeting the interest, the dreams and aspirations specifically of the regions' families. The Lecture Series is designed to make the nation's highest ongoing accomplishments in research, become part of parents' dialogue with their children in their homes. Beginning in students' homes and reinforced by the region's schools, families, educators, members of the public, may use the lecture series to aid students in garnering an understanding of the spectrum of opportunities available to them in the sciences.

Dr. Mark Showalter - presentingAcclaimed Space Scientist Dr. Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute and a team member of the New Horizons Mission to Pluto, as well as Dr. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Principal Investigator of the New Horizons Mission to Pluto, understand this goal of Victor Valley College's STEM Department through the lecture series. That is why Dr. Mark Showalter will for only the second time in California address an audience of members of the public at a college venue. What better topic to bring to the Victor Valley and surrounding regions than humanity's first exploration of the most beloved planet of all time!

Pluto was discovered in 1930, 85 years ago by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Ever since its discovery, generations after generation of the world's children have fallen in love with the little planet. At long last the People of Earth are sending a spacecraft ambassador for "children" of all ages to visit Pluto. Pluto will also "welcome" them to a distant, mysterious, never before explored region of our solar system.

New Horizons - concept art of spacecraft and Pluto - Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI)

Pluto opens the door to better understanding of countless objects of the solar system that are difficult to observe from Earth! This reservoir of comet-like bodies is known as the Kuiper belt. While the decision to reclassify Pluto apart from the major planets of our solar system has stirred controversy, Pluto is so distinctly unique from the other planets, that its exploration will yield secrets previously unknown to us about the origin of our solar system. Once scientists are able to understand how objects of Pluto's kind came to exist in our own solar system, it will shed light upon the mysteries of planetary system formation in potentially billions of other stellar systems, in our galaxy alone.

As Dr. Mark Showalter brings the challenges and anticipated excitement of humanity's first mission to Pluto to the audience, 20 students who have received STEM scholarships through a grant from Southern California Edison to Victor Valley College's STEM Division will also be honored. Each scholarship recipient will then be personally congratulated by Dr. Showalter, who has made major discoveries of planetary moons in our solar system! Through the 1st in this Lecture Series, not only will be public be brought along to the upcoming New Horizons' encounter with Pluto, but this rare opportunity for the public will serve to grasp the hands of aspiring young students as they reach toward achievement in our nation's future accomplishments in science.


Last Updated 5/12/17