NASA pioneer discusses magnetic structures, her long career

December 5, 2017


DATE: 3-5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, 2017

EVENT: A lecture and conversation with Professor Margaret Kivelson, a pioneering woman in space sciences. The talk is titled “Magnetic Structures in the Solar System.”

Kivelson, a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, is a research professor in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering. She received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in the 1950s from Radcliffe College, which was Harvard University’s college for women at the time. Her presence in Harvard engineering courses played a role in their gender desegregation.

The talk will describe aspects of the vastly different magnetic structures of the solar system. Most planets, and Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, are embedded in magnetic structures referred to as magnetospheres whose dynamics account for a range of phenomena including aurora, as well as spacecraft failures and, on Earth, intermittent large-scale power outages.

Following the lecture, Kivelson will discuss her long career in the space sciences on stage with her daughter, Valerie Kivelson, the Thomas N. Tentler Collegiate Professor and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of History at the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Margaret Kivelson was principal investigator for the magnetometer on the Galileo orbiter that gathered data in Jupiter’s magnetosphere for eight years. She was a member of the magnetometer team on Cassini at Saturn and is a co-investigator on NASA’s Themis mission, which aims to determine what physical process in near-Earth space initiates the violent eruptions of aurora that occur during substorms in Earth’s magnetosphere.

PLACE: Chesebrough Auditorium, 220 Chrysler Center, 2121 Bonisteel Blvd, Ann Arbor (on U-M’s North Campus)
SPONSORS: This is the 2017 Nelson W. Spencer Lecture, which is named after the director of the U-M Space Physics Research Laboratory from 1948 to 1960. During his tenure, SPRL became a leader in the exploration of Earth’s upper atmosphere. Each year, a guest speaker is invited to present a lecture in his honor.

INFORMATION: Margaret Kivelson in the 2017 Nelson W. Spencer Lecture