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Planetary Scientist Speaks at the Department of Physics Colloquium

Published: 12/11/2018

By: Carla Nelson

The Auburn University Department of Physics recently hosted Dr. Kathleen Mandt, Planetary Scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, to speak on “Plasma Boundaries in the Inner Comae of Comets.”

Dr. Mandt’s past research includes comets, the atmospheres of Titan, Pluto, Triton and Mars as well as the surface of Mars and the Moon. Past experience includes work on three National Aeronautics and Space Administration/European Space Agency (NASA/ESA) missions.

During the November 30 colloquium, Dr. Mandt mostly focused on observations that were made during the Rosetta Mission, a NASA/ESA mission she collaborated on that was designed to orbit and land on a comet.

Dr. Mandt spoke on how the environment of a comet changes over time, solar wind interaction and more. She also spoke on how she is passionate about mentoring and public outreach.

“I feel that the type of work that we do is very important because what we are doing doesn’t benefit society unless we give back to society what society has given with funding,” she said. “Everything I do is 100 percent tax payer dollars, so I feel that I have an obligation to society to go out and talk about these missions and share what you are getting and what your investment is in NASA.”

She also guessed that many students in attendance were on similar career paths as her.

“I hope you remember this and in your future focus on mentoring and outreach to develop the next generation and share the work that you do,” she said.

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