Fall 2021 Star Party Program

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Camilo Mejia Prada, Ph.D. Manager of the High Contrast Imaging Facility at NASA JPL

NASA’s Search for Planets, Habitability and Life in our Galaxy • Watch science-focused, student-led demonstrations








www.canyons.edu/ccc For more information (661) 362-3800




• Explore the skies with local amateur astronomer telescope viewing



ABOUT THE SANTA CLARITA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT The Santa Clarita Community College District serves a 367-square-mile service area in northern Los Angeles County. College of the Canyons, the single college within the district, serves more than 25,000 students in a traditional year at campuses in Valencia and Canyon Country, as well as online. Located on a modern 153-acre campus in Valencia and 70-acre site in Canyon Country, the College offers classes during fall and spring semesters, as well as summer and winter intersessions. Currently, COC offers more than 180 degrees and certificates, along with 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs available in the University Center from multiple partner institutions. The Canyon Country Campus, which opened in 2007, has become known as a comprehensive campus that offers high-quality instructional programs, supportive student services, and meaningful community partnerships. Since 2007, the campus has offered nearly 9,000 classes and served more than 66,000 students. Although current facilities consist primarily of modular buildings, the campus is poised to transform with new permanent structures. The Don Takeda Science Center at the Canyon Country Campus opened to students in Fall 2021, providing 55,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom space for high-demand instructional programs. The Science Center is a beautiful and much-anticipated facility that will help expand campus opportunities and pathways for students and the community. College of the Canyons has maintained its status over the years as one of the largest employers in the Santa Clarita Valley and is a vital, enduring, cultural, educational, and economic force in the region. The Canyon Country Campus contributes to this educational work and community impact.


CANYON COUNTRY CAMPUS 17200 Sierra Highway, Santa Clarita, CA 91351 (661) 362-3800 | www.canyons.edu/ccc


7 – 7:15pm

Opening Remarks Dr. Ryan Theule, Campus Vice President, and Mr. Anthony Michaelides, Campus Dean

7:15 – 7:20pm “Aerospace and Science Team Update” Professor Teresa Ciardi and the Aerospace and Science Team 7:20 – 7:25pm Local Group Astronomy Club Dave Flynn, Member, The Local Group Astronomy Club of SCV 7:25 – 8:10pm “NASA’s Search for Planets, Habitability and Life in our Galaxy” Presenter: Camilo Mejia Prada, Ph.D., Manager of the High Contrast Imaging Facility at NASA JPL 8:10 – 8:25pm Q & A 8:25 – 8:45pm Closing Remarks 7:00 – 9:30pm Explore Interactive Table Displays Stop by the table displays to see activities and projects, provided by College of the Canyons’ student clubs, departments and other groups 7:00 – 9:30pm Telescope Viewing Telescopes are provided by the Local Group Astronomy Club of SCV, and the Antelope Valley Astronomer’s Club, and by College of the Canyons. Thank you for joining us!!


Manager of the High Contrast Imaging Facility at NASA JPL Camilo Mejia Prada is the manager of the High Contrast Imaging Testbed Facility at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Southern California in 2014 and Post-Doctoral position at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Camilo has worked in space telescopes science and technology since 2006, including the Hubble Space Telescope, SOHO space telescope and Roman space telescope. His research interests include space telescopes technology, high contrast imaging instruments, wavefront sensing-control, nano-photonics and electrodynamics. Currently, he is working on the technology development for the Roman Space Telescope high contrast imaging instrument. In the “NASA’s Search for Planets, Habitability and Life in our Galaxy” presentation he we will explain NASA’s plans for the discovery and understanding of planetary systems around nearby stars. He will also give the latest results of the planetary discovery in our galaxy, methods of detection and types of planetary systems. Finally, we will see the results of a few laboratory demonstrations for future space telescope technology.


4,531 Exoplanets have been confirmed to date! By Professor Teresa Ciardi

NASA missions (Kepler, K2, & TESS) have discovered an additional 6,297 exoplanet candidates that scientists are working to confirm. Recent News • 1st Discovery of a planet orbiting a White Dwarf – Announced on Space.com just this month (October 2021), the planet was detected from microlensing, from light bending due to the curvature of space near the planet. This provides evidence that planets may survive the end of their host star! • Planet that rains aluminum – There is a global effort to understand the characteristics of planet TOI-3362, a planet that reaches “summer temperatures above 2,000 degrees” and experiences aluminum rain in the winter as it traverses a very elliptical orbit. Planets in our solar system experience seasons only if they have a rotation axis that is tilted but very elliptical orbits can also cause seasonal effects. • TESS Delivers – The Kepler mission initiated a systematic search for exoplanets in 2009, and now the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) mission has found “more than 2,200 candidate planets orbiting bright, nearby stars, including hundreds of “smaller” planets – many possibly rocky worlds in some ways similar to Earth.” (space.com) that TESS continues to search. • James Webb Telescope launched December 18th – One of the many scientific endeavors for the James Webb Telescope will be to probe confirmed exoplanet atmospheres, looking for evidence of water and an abundance of oxygen, looking for life. Humans are curious, we want to know, is there life out there? Scientists think yes, the probability is very high that we are not alone in the universe.

COLLEGE OF THE CANYONS AEROSPACE & SCIENCES TEAM College of the Canyons Aerospace & Sciences Team (AST) competes with universities from around the world for spots on NASA student platforms. Our student team has flown 7 experiments to space since 2016. In 2022, we will have our first STEAM NASA HASP project. All of AST’s experiments that have been to space will be at the Astronomy & Physics Club table.

NASA HASP Project Manager, Michael Souliman, attaches our 2021 experiment to the NASA platform. Mr. Souliman is now at Stanford.

This is the 2021 RockSatX rocket just prior to launch. The NASA RockSatX sounding rocket carries 8-10 experiments 100+ miles into space.

Shuan Ford, Teresa Ciardi, Natalie Aliaga, and Hector Gomez smiling just after our experiment was launched to space aboard the 2021 NASA RockSatX rocket.

PARTICIPATING CLUBS/GROUPS Join us in thanking the following clubs, departments and organizations represented at the demonstration tables this evening: • Active Minds

• College of the Canyons Library

• American Cancer Society

• Helping Us Become Club

• Associated Student Government

• Psi Beta Honor Society

• Chemistry Department

• Psychology Club

• College of the Canyons Civic Engagement Club


The Don Takeda Science Center points to a promising future at the Canyon Country Campus. Opened for initial classes in Fall 2021, the four-story structure is situated at the center of campus on Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook Drive, a campus road named in 2018 to honor the Chancellor’s 30+ years of service to College of the Canyons. With nineteen state of the art classrooms and labs, this facility will be an important part of student access, engagement, and success on campus. A new terraced amphitheater and plaza spaces also provide student instruction and gathering space outdoors alongside the new facility.

A forthcoming facility, the Student Services & Learning Resources Center, is currently under construction to the south of the Science Center.

Our sincere THANKS to all who made this evening possible! Guest Speaker, Camilo Mejia Prada, Ph.D, Manager of the High Contrast Imaging Facility at NASA JPL

Antelope Valley Astronomy Club The Local Group Astronomy Club of Santa Clarita Valley Teresa Ciardi, Professor, Astronomy & Physical Science

The COC Aerospace & Sciences Team Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees Edel Alonso • Michael D. Berger • Sebastian Cazares • Michele R. Jenkins • Joan W. MacGregor

The Star Party Committee Teresa Ciardi • Anthony Michaelides • Jamie Page • Maria Sanchez • Nicholas Schutz • Dr. Ryan Theule