Bwog likes to inform our readers of every event around campus, from social justice jamborees to science seminars. We sent our own little Martian Mason Amelotte to space Low Library on Tuesday to learn more about Mercury.
Why do we explore our solar system? It’s a question people don’t often think about. Most would say we explore our solar system to learn more about the planets, comets, and stars around us. However, Sean C. Solomon, director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia, believes otherwise. He believes we explore our solar system to learn more about Earth itself.
On Tuesday night, Solomon gave a university lecture in Low Library titled “Why We Explore the Solar System: The MESSENGER Mission to Mercury.” Solomon is director of the largest research division within the Earth Institute at Columbia, and he is also principal investigator of NASA’s Messenger mission to Mercury, the “most comprehensive investigation yet of the planet closest to the sun.” Solomon is a 2014 recipient of the National Medal of Science, and even has an asteroid named after him, Asteroid 25137 Seansolomon, which is currently in orbit around the sun between Mars and Jupiter.
University President Lee C. Bollinger opened the presentation by giving praise to the University Lecture as a forum that reflects “the ideals of…the university.” Prezbo went on to commend the work of the faculty at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He mentioned that the purpose of the MESSENGER mission was to provide him with “a quick and easy way to escape the students administration,” before handing the microphone off to John H. Coatsworth, University Provost. Coatsworth introduced the audience to Sean C. Solomon, the keynote speaker, by listing off Solomon’s many degrees and accomplishments. One endeavor that stood out was Solomon’s role as principal investigator of the MESSENGER project, which puts him in charge of “all aspects of the mission…from financing to executing.” Coatsworth then welcomed Solomon to the stage.