Wednesday, February 15, 2023 at 7:30 PM EST


Small Satellites for Big Science

This lecture will be shown on our big screen at the Martz-Kohl Observatory and available online via Zoom. You are encouraged to come to the observatory to virtually meet Dr. Spann and join in our always lively Q&A after his talk. Later, if the weather cooperates, we offer tours and viewing opportunities through the big telescopes. Dress appropriately for the weather as the domes are not heated.

As access to space has become more available to the commercial market, a revolution of using small satellites has taken place. The development of small satellites began 30 years ago but only in the last 10 years has it become commercially viable. The use of small satellites to conduct research has been embraced by NASA and the National Science Foundation. This talk focuses on the value of the research and applications that small satellites enable, science that traditional large satellites cannot conduct and applications that are not feasible otherwise. This talk also explores the symbiotic role of small and large satellites for space exploration.

Dr. James F. (Jim) Spann, Jr., is the Heliophysics Division Space Weather Lead at NASA Headquarters. During his 36-year NASA career, he developed and flew in space several auroral UV remote sensing instruments, managed the Marshall Space Flight Center’s (MSFC) science research organization, which includes the disciplines of Astrophysics, Planetary Science, Heliophysics and Earth Science, and served as the MSFC Chief Scientist. A laboratory physicist by training, he earned his BS in mathematics and physics from Ouachita Baptist University and his PhD in physics from the University of Arkansas.

Dr. Spann is the author or co-author of more than 70 peer reviewed journal articles primarily in space physics. He was the Principle Investigator of an international 6U CubeSat mission with the Brazilian space agency called SPORT that will investigate the conditions in Earth’s ionosphere that lead to disruptions in communication and GPS signals. He is also heading up the first Lunar Gateway science payload called HERMES that will study the solar wind and enable better space weather forecasting.

Dr. Jim Spann grew up in Recife, Brazil from age 5, where his parents served as missionaries for over 33 years. He attended a Brazilian school (Colégio Americano Batista) though elementary, then a small international school (American School of Recife) before returning to the United States for college (Ouachita Baptist University and the University of Arkansas). He is an avid soccer fan, enjoys photography, on occasion relaxes with his guitar, and has a strong interest in the overlap of science and faith.


Zoom Meeting

A non-member donation of $5.00 is appreciated but not required for presentations and events.  You can donate on our donation page. Thanks!

Time: February 15, 2023 7:30 PM Eastern Time

Topic: Dr. James Spann
Meeting ID:  885 9151 3496
Passcode: science

Click the “One Clink Link” shown below. When prompted, click “open” in the dialog shown by your browser. If you don’t see a dialog, click the blue “Launch Meeting” in the webpage.

One Click Link:

Manual dial-in: +1 646 558 8656
Meeting ID:  885 9151 3496
Passcode: science

Find your local number:

Browse videos in our Lecture Series.