Les Johnson
Les Johnson

Les Johnson, NASA technologist and author of “Going Interstellar,” will give two talks on the University of New Mexico campus Thursday, Feb. 19 and Friday, Feb. 20.

Johnson will speak at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 19 in Mechanical Engineering Building, Room 218, then sign copies of his books, which also include “Rescue Mode,” in the Mechanical Engineering Building Atrium at 6 p.m. Refreshments will be served. In “Going Interstellar,” Johnson describes methods that may one day enable us to travel to the stars.

On Feb. 20 at 3:30 p.m. in Mechanical Engineering Building, Room 218, Johnson will speak about the fundamentals of solar sailing, which is a rapidly-maturing, in-space propulsion technology that will soon be used to send small robotic spacecraft throughout the inner solar system. The talk will focus on the fundamentals of solar sailing, the state of the technology, near-term missions, and how future solar sails could one day take us to the stars.

Johnson is senior technical advisor for the Advanced Concepts Office at the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. He is the principal investigator for the Near Earth Asteroid Scout solar sail mission that will fly to asteroid 1991VG after its launch in 2017.

Johnson has been featured in several Discovery, National Geographic and Science Channel documentaries about space exploration and is the author of multiple science-fiction novels and popular science books about space and our future there. More about Johnson can be found on his website.