James L. Green, NASA’s director of planetary science, will give two very different lectures at Brown this week. One describes the past and future of NASA’s solar system exploration, and the second chronicles the life and work of a Civil War balloonist and Rhode Island native. Talks will be held Feb. 5 at 4 p.m. in 115 MacMillan Hall and Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. in 117 Macmillan Hall.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — James Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, will visit Brown this week to discuss the future of NASA’s solar system exploration as well as a bit of Rhode Island aeronautics history.

On Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, Green will present a lecture titled “NASA’s Solar System Exploration Paradigm: The First 50 Years and a Look at the Next 50.” NASA’s general approach to exploring objects in the solar system has involved “flyby, orbit, land, rove, and sample return.” Green will discuss the application of this paradigm in past, present, and future scientific exploration of the solar system. The lecture is part of a series honoring Thomas A. Mutch, a geology professor at Brown, NASA administrator, and planetary science pioneer. Mutch died in 1980 while climbing in the Himalayas.

Green as James Allen
James Allen, a native Rhode Islander, was one of the foremost American  balloonist of the 19th century.

On Friday, Feb. 6, Green will present the story of James Allen, a pioneering aeronaut and a Barrington, R.I., native. During the Civil War, Allen served as chief aeronaut for the Union Army Balloon Corps. The corps made more than 3,000 balloon flights during the war for reconnaissance, map-making, and artillery spotting. Allen continued flying balloons after the war and would become the most famous aeronaut of the latter 1800s. He died in 1897 and is buried in Swan’s Point Cemetery in Providence. Green will deliver the talk in character.

Lectures will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday in 115 Macmillan and 4 p.m. Friday in 117 MacMillan Hall (167 Thayer Street, Providence). The talks are free and open to the public.

Green’s visit is sponsored by the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences in conjunction with Brown’s 250th anniversary.

James L. Green

James L. Green received his undergraduate degree in astronomy and his master’s and doctoral degrees in physics at the University of Iowa. He has pursued research in magnetospheric physics at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and then at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., from 1980 to 2005. In 2006 he moved to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., as the director of the Planetary Science Division. Although his day job involves NASA’s robotic missions of exploration to other planets of the solar system, he has long had a passionate personal interest in the history of the Civil War and ballooning in particular.