AAAP October 14 Meeting, 7:30 PM, NASA Mission Specialist, Mark “Indy” Kochte, “New Horizons: The Adventure to Pluto.”

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The October Meeting of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh will be held at 7:30 PM, October 14, 2016, at Carnegie Science Center, Riverview Cafe, One Allegheny Ave.Pittsburgh, PA 15212  and features the  NASA New Horizons Mission Specialist Mark “Indy” Kochte*, speaking on “New Horizons: The Adventure to Pluto.”  * Please refer to bio at the end of this post.

Pluto has long been considered an oddball planet since it’s discovery, but over the decades we have learned much about what it is and what it isn’t. Now, after a 9.5 year voyage that covered over 3 billion miles, the New Horizons spacecraft, the first manmade object from Earth to visit this little planet, has shown us that Pluto is SO unique and unlike anything we might have imagined since it’s discovery 70-odd years ago. What new wonders await discovery? Join Mission Operations team member Mark ‘Indy’ Kochte on a journey of wonder to a place in our own solar system that the awesome Hubble Space Telescope can only barely resolve.

The speaker will be at the top of the evening shortly after 7:30 PM.  Following the speaker there will be a brief recess followed by the monthly business meeting. Please check back for updates.

NASA New Horizons Mission Specialist, Mark "Indy" Kochte, Photo Credit: Kyle Cassidy

NASA New Horizons Mission Specialist, Mark “Indy” Kochte, Photo Credit: Kyle Cassidy

Heads up there is a 21+ Night  upstairs in the Carnegie Science during the meeting. There are also some extra activities going on around the building. It should be great fun!

Carnegie Science Center Parking Lot charges a flat $5 fee. AAAP Meetings are free and open to the public.

The November AAAP monthly meeting will be held 7:30 PM, Friday, November 11, 2016, Allegheny Observatory Planetarium Theater  and features the Kevin J. Brunelle Astrophotography Contest.

Upcoming 2016 AAAP Observatory Star Parties: Wagman Observatory:
Oct 8 & 22 (Dark sky), Nov 5; Mingo Creek Park Observatory: Oct 21 & 22, Nov 12 (Sun-Moon Chilifest).


Download 2016 Fliers Here


Mingo Star Party Schedule 2016


*AAAP’s October speaker arrives with a wealth of speaking and life experience in addition to his activities at the Applied Physics Laboratory.  here is MArk “Indy” Kochte’s bio:

Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh – October 14,  2016 Mark “Indy” Kochte Bio:

Mark ‘Indy’ Kochte had always been interested in space and astronomy since he was a kid. To that end, he pursued a degree in Astronomy & Physics from the Ohio State University, and in 1988 joined the Space Telescope Science Institute prior to launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, where he was instrumental in performing the data processing and archiving for Hubble. After 17 years of this fun, he took a position on the FUSE (Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer) mission to tackle the unique challenges of planning and scheduling of the ailing ultraviolet-viewing space telescope. In 2006 he was given the opportunity to hop aboard the MESSENGER mission as a Payload & Mission Operations Specialist, sequencing critical instrument and spacecraft commanding until the spacecraft’s sudden and ultimate end impact-on-Mercury fate on April 30th, 2015. Late summer 2014, he also became involved with the New Horizons mission as a Mission Analyst to take over the command sequencing of the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) plasma spectrometer and simulation runs of the spacecraft command loads. More recently Indy has become involved in identifying ancient deltas and alluvial fans on Mars from the analysis of data products from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer (CRISM), an instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and working on verification of carbon darkening on Mercury’s surface using data from the now-demolished Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer on MESSENGER.

Throughout his tenure in space mission operations, Indy has published a half a dozen papers on spacecraft design and mission operations, as well as co-authored a dozen additional papers on spacecraft design, mission operations, and science analysis results of early exoplanet research.

Not being an all-work/no-play kinda guy, in his spare time, when not staring at the stars, Indy can be found exploring the world we live on. In addition to having authored the rock climbing guidebook “Climb Maryland!”, he is often out scaling cliffs from Maryland to Thailand, mapping cave systems in West Virginia, mountain climbing in the greater Rocky Mountains, diving for fossilized Megalodon shark teeth (or to just look at the pretty fish) in the Atlantic or Caribbean, working on various time-lapse and astrolapse photography projects, or generally capturing moments in time by photographing the world around us. No moss gathers under his feet!


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