Voyager expert Stone to speak for Robert M. Walker Distinguished Lecture Series

Lecture to take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 in Brauer Hall

Stone with life-size replica of one of the Voyager spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Science fans may remember a confusing moment a few years back when a flurry of news releases announced that the Voyager spacecraft either had, hadn’t, or may have left the solar system.

The final arbiter of this dispute was Edward C. Stone, PhD, the David Morrisroe Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology and project scientist for the Voyager program.

Stone announced in September 2013 that the mission scientists were now certain that Voyager 1 had reached interstellar space Aug. 25, 2012, at a distance of 18.3 billion kilometers from the sun

“We believe this is humankind’s historic leap into interstellar space,” Stone said in the 2013 release, echoing Neil Armstrong’s famous words on first setting foot on the moon.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, Stone will present the scientific highlights of the probes’ twin journeys to the edge of the solar system, which included spectacular flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

An abstract of the talk can be found on the website for the McDonnell Center for Space Sciences in Arts & Sciences, which is hosting the event as part of the Robert M. Walker Distinguished Lecture Series. It will take place in Brauer Hall, Room 12, on Washington University’s Danforth Campus and is free and open to the public.

Stone, who was inspired to enter the field of planetary science by the launch of Sputnik in 1957, has served as project scientist for the Voyager program since 1972. After the launch of the two Voyager spacecraft in 1977, he became nationally known as the spokesman for the program, explaining the Voyagers’ scientific discoveries to the public.

About the Walker Lecture and McDonnell Center

Robert M. Walker, PhD, the McDonnell Center’s inaugural director from 1975-99, was a pioneering physicist who shaped research in the space sciences worldwide. The Walker lecture series was established in 2008 by Ramanath Cowsik, PhD, the James S. McDonnell Professor of Space Sciences and director of the McDonnell Center.

The McDonnell Center, established in 1975 through a gift from aerospace pioneer James S. McDonnell, is a consortium of Washington University faculty, research staff and students primarily from the departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Physics, both in Arts & Sciences, who are working on the cutting edge of space research.

For more information, contact Trecia Stumbaugh at or 314-935-5332.

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