Former astronaut Ed Lu to speak on asteroid impacts

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Louise Good, (808) 956-9403
Editor/Media Contact, Institute for Astronomy
Dr. Roy Gal, (301) 728-8637
Assistant Astronomer/Outreach Coordinator, Institute for Astronomy
Posted: Jul 22, 2013

Ed Lu. Courtesy B612 Foundation
Ed Lu. Courtesy B612 Foundation

Former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, CEO of the B612 Foundation, will give the next Sheraton Waikīkī Explorers of the Universe public lecture, “Astronomy Saves the World: Protecting the Planet from Asteroid Impacts,” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 15, 2013, at Kennedy Theatre on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus.

Tickets are free but required. To obtain them, go to Latecomers with tickets may not be seated, as people without tickets will be seated on a first-come, first-seated basis starting at 7:20 p.m.

Asteroids hit Earth more often than most people realize, and we have identified only 1 percent of the more than one million that could threaten life on Earth. In his talk, Lu will describe the risk of asteroid impacts and why he now leads the B612 Sentinel Mission to find and prevent these cosmic natural disasters.  “We already know how to deflect an asteroid to keep it from hitting the Earth," says Lu, "but this technology is useless unless we do one crucial step first.” Lu will describe his efforts to accomplish this necessary first step and to literally help save the world.

Lu flew three space missions, including six months on the International Space Station. He is now chairman and CEO of the B612 Foundation, which seeks to protect Earth from asteroid impacts by finding such asteroids in time to deflect them.  Prior to joining NASA, he was a postdoctoral fellow in solar physics at the UH Mānoa Institute for Astronomy.

From 2007 to 2010, he led the Advanced Projects group at Google, where his teams developed imaging technology for Google Earth/Maps, Google Street View, and energy information products including Google PowerMeter. He is the co-inventor of the Gravity Tractor, a spacecraft able to controllably alter the orbit of an asteroid. He co-founded the B612 Foundation with Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart in 2002 and announced the Sentinel Space Telescope Mission in 2012.

Lu has published scientific articles on high-energy astrophysics, solar physics, plasma physics, cosmology and statistical physics. He holds a PhD in astrophysics from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University.

Founded in 1967, the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets and the sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea. The Institute operates facilities on the islands of Oʻahu, Maui and Hawaiʻi.

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