In December 2000, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California selected David Sheppard as its Solar System Ambassador to the Carlsbad, New Mexico area. The position is entirely voluntary and does not pay a salary. The Solar System Ambassadors program is managed by JPL, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s (NASA) lead field center for the robotic exploration of the Solar System.
He visited area elementary schools where he talked to students and faculty about astronomy and NASA projects to the outer planets. He also held community star parties where he provided view of the planets through a Celestron NexStar 11 telescope.
JPL Solar System Ambassador Lectures by David Sheppard at NMSU-Carlsbad
Lecture 1: Our Star, The Sun
21 Feb 01
The evolution of the Universe following the Big Bang from which it was created and the origin and evolution of the sun. Discussion of the internal nuclear reactions that fuel the sun, and the sun’s ultimate demise.
Lecture 2: JPL Mars Projects
11 Apr 01
Results of past and present JPL missions to Mars: Mariner 9, Viking, Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor. Future missions. The search for water and life on Mars.
Lecture 3: Asteroids & Comets 12 Sep 01
What is the danger to Earth from Asteroid and Comet impact? The Tunguska impact of 1908 in Siberia; the impact 65 million years ago that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. JPL missions to asteroids and comets; joint missions with the European Space Agency.
Lecture 4: Missions to Jupiter and Saturn
11 Oct 01
JPL’s exploration of Jupiter and Saturn to include: past Voyager missions to both planets; the current Galileo Mission at Jupiter; and the Cassini mission to Saturn and Titan.