Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jack Schmitt to speak at University of Houston

Former U.S. Senator, Dr. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, lunar module pilot for Apollo 17, last man to step out onto the lunar surface and the only professional scientist to visit to Moon, during an inpromptu interview at Rutgers University.

One of the last astronauts to step foot on the moon will be speaking at the University of Houston Wednesday, April 1. Part of Apollo 17, the last Apollo mission to land men on the moon, Harrison Schmitt is the only trained geologist to have ever walked on the lunar surface. His talk is free and open to the public.
Schmitt, an adjunct professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin, will speak from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Shamrock Ballroom of the Hilton University of Houston Hotel. His talk is titled "Shoot for the Moon: Future Energy, Lunar Return and Science Education."
During the Apollo 17 flight in December 1972, Schmitt took the photograph of the Earth called "The Blue Marble" that was officially credited to the entire Apollo 17 crew by NASA. As the only geologist in the astronaut corps, he became the first of the scientist-astronauts to receive a crew assignment and played a key role in training Apollo crews to be geologic observers and field workers when in lunar orbit and on the lunar surface. After each of the landing missions, he participated in the examination and evaluation of the returned lunar samples. After the completion of Apollo 17, he played an active role in documenting the Apollo geologic results.
During the UH lecture, Schmitt plans to cover subjects from his book "Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space." Topics include the role of humans in space, space law and policy, space entrepreneurship and management, and the economics and production of Helium-3 (He-3) for power generation.
A long-term proponent for obtaining He-3 from the lunar surface for nuclear fusion to harness energy, Schmitt will talk about the eventual possibility of mining the moon for vast stores of nonpolluting nuclear fuel from this source. There is only an estimated 15 tons of the He-3 isotope on Earth. The moon, however, has an abundant supply estimated to be between one to five million tons of this precious isotope in its regolith, the layer of loose rock resting on the lunar surface.
Schmitt also will offer his perspective on climate change. He made recent headlines as a scientist who disagrees with the theory of man-made global warming.
This talk is the 16th Milton Dobrin Memorial Distinguished Geophysics Lecture sponsored by the UH Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The annual event is named for the late Milton Dobrin, a well-respected geophysicist who was a member of the UH geosciences faculty prior to his death in 1980. He made distinguished contributions to exploration geophysics and to the advancement of the profession.

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