Europa Clipper Mission

Dr. Wladimir Lyra, California State University at Northridge, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life as know requires liquid water and these moons have lots of it under their icy crusts. In this talk I will explain the science behind why we think we know these oceans exist and what we know about the conditions on these worlds. I will focus on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is the target of the upcoming JPL flagship Europa Clipper mission. I will also show how computational models of mantle convection are helping to inform our understanding of worlds like Europa.


Wladimir Lyra is an assistant professor at California State University at Northridge, Department of Physics and Astronomy. He is also a research associate at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a visitor at Caltech’s Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he received his Ph.D. in astronomy in February 2009 from Uppsala University, Sweden. Lyra is a recipient of the Sagan Fellowship, the prestigious postdoctoral research grant named after the famous astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan. The highly competitive grant is given to support independent research that is broadly related to the science goals of NASA's Exoplanet Exploration program, the primary goal of which is to discover and characterize planetary systems and Earth-like planets around nearby stars.


Friday, August 18, 2017 - 10:00 to 11:00