Press Release

Public Invited to Free Lecture on Apollo 17 Anniversary: It’s a New Moon 40 Years After Apollo

By SpaceRef Editor
December 5, 2012
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GREENBELT, Md. — The public is invited to a free event in December to experience “Asking What Was Once Unthinkable,” by Dr. Noah Petro, research scientist and team member for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The talk is part of the Gerald Soffen Lecture Series and will be held at the Visitor Center at NASA Goddard on Wed., Dec. 12, 2012 at 7 p.m. EDT (doors will open at 6:45 p.m.). The presentation is about one hour and will end with a question and answer session. Registration is requested online. Pre-registration will be open until Dec. 7, 2012.

“To us, the moon is different today than it was 40 years ago because our understanding has changed,” said Dr. Petro. Petro is a research scientist and is part of the Project Science team for the LRO mission. During the Apollo program his father helped build parts for the lunar lander and the astronauts’ backpacks, now he helps run the LRO mission that has imaged the landing sites and re-sparked interest in the past and future exploration of the moon.

Between 1969 and 1972, six Apollo missions sent humans to the surface of the moon. Now, 40 years after the last Apollo mission explored the moon, we are beginning to better understand the entire moon, including the six Apollo sites, and how its surface evolved to its current state. Within the last five years, we have learned the moon is wetter, colder, more active, and more diverse than we previously knew. These discoveries are changing how we view the moon, how we think it formed, and how it evolved. Using data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we now see the moon in a new light and can ask questions that were once unthinkable just 10 years ago.

The Gerald Soffen lecture series is dedicated to Dr. Gerald Soffen (1926-2000) who led the science team for NASA’s Viking program, was Director of Life Sciences at NASA Headquarters, Project scientist for NASA’s Earth Observing System, and created NASA Academy, NASA’s premiere leadership training internship. He was best known, however, for his passion for inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

The Goddard Visitor Center is located off ICESat Road. Visitors are still welcome to attend without pre-registration. Attendees who have submitted pre-registration forms will have priority for seating and overflow seating may be required to accommodate all guests.

To register online, go to:

For directions to the Goddard Visitor Center, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.