Michelle Stephens: Space Science Meets Measurement Science

Presented by KUNC

Doors: 7:00 PM
Showtime: 7:30 PM

How the best measurements are opening the way for better space science

For space science to advance beyond its current frontiers, measurement science (metrology) often must lead the way. Examples of this metrology development are taking place just two miles from the Chautauqua Auditorium at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Although NIST is not typically known for space science, its internationally recognized expertise in calibrations and physical measurements are having an impact beyond our atmosphere. Two examples will be discussed. One involves measurements that support gravitational wave astrophysics in collaboration with the Nobel prize winning (2017) Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). Another is enabling space-based measurements of the essential climate variable referred to as Earth Radiation Budget in collaboration with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. Both projects employ NIST-developed light-absorbing materials shown to be the “blackest” on Earth as well as in-house state-of-the-art microfabrication techniques that provide very precise measurements of light in robust packages. Come hear how near-perfect light absorbers are helping us to understand the delicate solar balance of our planet and one of the most familiar forces in our lives.

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