50 Years in Space
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John C. Mather
James Webb Space Telescope Senior Project Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; 2006 Nobel Laureate for Physics

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The Next 50 Years of Scientific Exploration

How did we get here, where are we going, how does this amazing universe function, and how can we survive the next billion years?  Our next 50 years of scientific discovery can only be guessed, but numerous National Academy reports tell us the open questions, and there are many strategies to meet them.  We could perhaps: see how the first stars were made, see how solar systems are made, find dark matter in a laboratory, measure the dark energy that makes the expanding universe accelerate, measure gravitational waves from awesome cosmic explosions, find signs of gravitational waves in the Big Bang itself, see if Einstein’s theory of gravity really describes black holes, find life on Mars or Europa or Ganymede, or on planets around some other distant star. Or closer to home, maybe we’ll know when and how the Sun will erupt, how it affects the Earth, how fast our climate is changing and why and what to do about it, and how to protect ourselves from rocks falling on us from space.  Maybe, we’ll even find out how life could have started, and maybe our biologist friends will make some live things from basic building blocks in a test tube.  Or maybe, we’ll make some form of digital life, that will transform the way we live, or how we travel through the solar system and out into the universe.  My crystal ball is quivering!

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© Caltech. All rights reserved.   last update: December 8, 2011

Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories
California Institute of Technology
Northrop Grumman Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Conference Chairs

Jean-Lou Chameau
President, California Institute of Technology
Alexis Livanos
President, Northrop Grumman Space Technology
Charles Elachi
Director, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Conference Organizers
Ares Rosakis
Director GALCIT, California Institute of Technology
Dwight Streit
Vice President, Foundation Technologies Northrop Grumman Space Technology


  50 Years in Space


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