Major Funding The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation

Planets: Guests

Jason Barnes

Assistant Professor of Astrophysics, University of Idaho

Born in Cambridge, England, Dr. Barnes grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He received a B.S. degree from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1998, majoring in Astronomy, and his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Planetary Science. His thesis was about extrasolar giant planets. His postdoctoral work at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California involved work with the space missions Cassini and Kepler, studying Saturn's moon Titan, and looking for Earth-sized planets in other solar systems, respectively.

Dr. Barnes joined the University of Idaho in 2008. He studies the physics of planets and planetary systems. He uses NASA spacecraft data to study planets that orbit stars other than the Sun (extrasolar planets) and the composition and nature of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. He has a personal website at

Dr. Gary L. Bennett

Retired Scientist and Program Manager, NASA

Dr. Gary L. Bennett is a consultant in aerospace power and propulsion systems. With over 40 years of experience in space and terrestrial power and propulsion systems he has held management and technical positions at NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), and what is now the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

At NASA, he managed programs in advanced space power and propulsion. At DOE he directed the safety and nuclear operations for the successful radioisotope power programs for the Galileo and Ulysses missions. At NRC he led the reactor operational safety research program. While at the AEC, he was the flight manager for the radioisotope power sources currently in use on the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. Prior to that he worked on the nuclear rocket program at what is now NASA's Glenn Research Center (Cleveland). He did fundamental reactor safety research at what is now INL. For nine years he was a member of or adviser to U.S. delegations to the United Nations dealing with the use of nuclear power sources in outer space.

He has received numerous awards from NASA, DOE, NRC, and professional societies. He has authored one book (The Star Sailors) and contributed chapters to four other books. He has authored or coauthored over 150 technical papers, reports, and articles on power, propulsion and space missions.

Past guests for this topic include: Jill Scott, Leslie Baker.

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