Sigma Xi Orange County Chapter

Next Meeting

March 20th, 2012. (Always on the 3rd Tuesdays of the odd-numbered months.)

Lecture (8 p.m.): “To Boldly Go – Well, You Know: NASA’s Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt”

The ambitious and exciting Dawn mission, launched in September 2007, is one of NASA's most remarkable ventures into the solar system. The spacecraft is exploring Vesta today and later will travel to Ceres; these were among the last uncharted worlds in the inner solar system prior to Dawn. They are the two most massive residents of the asteroid belt, that vast collection of bodies between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres is so large that it is included in the category of dwarf planets, along with Pluto. The alien landscapes Dawn reveals should provide humankind with a new perspective on the solar system. Remnants from the time that planets were formed, Ceres and Vesta hold clues that will help scientists understand the dawn of the solar system.

Dawn entered orbit around Vesta in July 2011 and has obtained astonishing views of this fascinating world. It will leave Vesta in the summer of 2012 to begin the long journey to Ceres. It is the only spacecraft ever to orbit an object in the asteroid belt and is the first ever targeted to orbit any two solar system destinations. Such a mission would be impossible without the use of ion propulsion, a technology that has mostly been in the domain of science fiction, but which was tested extensively on the Deep Space 1 mission, paving the way for Dawn.

Dr. Marc Rayman will describe the Dawn mission and its use of ion propulsion as well as its two exotic destinations. He also will share the excitement and profundity of controlling a spacecraft in deep space.

Marc Rayman, Ph.D.

Marc D. Rayman, Ph.D., Dawn Program Manager/Director/Scientist and JPL/NASA’s Chief Propulsion Engineer, is the only person I know to have an asteroid named for him … and he is the only person to have won both of JPL’s Exceptional Technical Excellence Award and the Exception Leadership Award. See what Capt. James T Kirk of the Starship Enterprise has to say about him!

Social ˝ Hour:

6:30 PM (no host bar). Come and meet the speaker and the other attendees.


7:00 PM – Greek Chicken Kabob with veggies, salad, dressings, assorted dinner rolls and creamery butter, chef’s choice dessert, fresh brewed regular and decaffeinated coffee, hot herbal tea and iced tea. Full bar service available.


Send your check (made out to Sigma Xi, Orange County Chapter) by Friday, March 16th to secretary/treasurer:

Dr. John Pinson
5069 E. Crescent Dr.
Anaheim, CA 92807-3610
(714) 637-9146

Paid-up members and their guests, $23; $28 for all others. There is no charge for attending the lecture only but please RSVP so we can have a chair for you! Questions? Feel free to use the contacts on the home page. Miss the deadline? Pay at the door by cash or check, but the tab is $3 more! (An “inconvenience” fee.)

Map and Directions

DoubleTree Club by Hilton Hotel Orange County Airport

In the parking lot, drive up to the front door. Tell the valet parking attendants that you're going to the Sigma Xi meeting, and there will be no charge if you self-park. Arrive early, as the parking lot sometimes fills up quickly.