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Science & Technology

Scientist Who's Among Those Leading NASA Mission To Pluto Visits Central Coast

Photo by NASA New Horizons
Image of Pluto taken during flyby of New Horizons spacecraft

Fran Bagenal is one of the team leaders for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, and she will share her discoveries at Cal Poly this week. 

She says it took nine years for the spacecraft to finally make a flyby and 15 more months to beam images back to Earth. She says the data far exceeded her expectations.

“The temperatures are really cold. So, it’s -390 degrees Fahrenheit," she said. "Everything is solid. Water ice acts like rock, so you have mountains of water ice. And you have cracks, big, deep valleys. And you have impact craters.”

Bagenal will also speak about her work on the Juno mission to Jupiter where the satellite soars low over the planet’s cloud tops.

The free talk takes place Wednesday at 7 pm at Cal Poly.