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AAS Names Scott Bolton as Kavli Foundation Plenary Lecturer

24 Oct 2017

With support from the Kavli Foundation, the Vice-Presidents of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) name a special invited lecturer to kick off each semiannual AAS meeting with a presentation on recent research of great importance. At the 231st AAS meeting near Washington, DC, on 9 January 2018, the Kavli Foundation Plenary Lecture will be given by Scott Bolton (Southwest Research Institute), principal investigator of NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter.

Following its launch in August 2011 and a boost from an Earth flyby in October 2013, Juno arrived at Jupiter on 4 July 2016. From its unique perspective in a highly elongated polar orbit that carries it low over the planet’s cloud tops every 53 days, Juno is providing a revolutionary new view of Jupiter. By peering beneath the clouds with a powerful suite of instruments, Juno is fundamentally challenging our basic assumptions about the origin and evolution of gas giants. The mission is not only reshaping our understanding of the planets in our own solar system, but also is providing context to help us interpret observations of large gas-rich planets orbiting other stars.

High-resolution imagery returned by Juno’s camera has revealed a myriad of Earth-size cyclones raging in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Microwave measurements have discovered layers of ammonia clouds stretching to great depths, while magnetometer observations reveal a stronger and less uniform magnetic field than expected, suggesting that the field originates above the metallic hydrogen region of the planet’s deep interior. More discoveries are eagerly anticipated as scientists analyze data from the spacecraft’s recent pass over the Great Red Spot and as Juno continues its mission into 2018.

Scott Bolton has extensive leadership experience with many planetary missions, including Cassini, which recently ended its exploration of the Saturn system, and Galileo, NASA’s earlier Jupiter orbiter. Bolton led the development of Juno’s microwave radiometer experiment while championing Jupiter science on behalf of a large and dedicated team of investigators.

“I am honored to be offered this opportunity to tell Juno’s story at the AAS winter meeting,” said Bolton. “Our surprising discoveries, and the insights they’re giving us into how gas-giant planets work, make for a story that’s not only scientifically illuminating but also fun to tell!”

Rick Fienberg
AAS Press Officer
+1 202-328-2010 x116

Chick Woodward
AAS Senior Vice-President
+1 612-624-0254

Juno's principal investigator is Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech & SwRI

The AAS, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 8,000) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.