Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series

Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series Plus 2021-2022

The LPI’s Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series (CESS) strives to connect the public to the exciting research, missions, and individuals in planetary and space science.


In LPI’s 2021–2022 Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series (CESS), scientific leaders guide us through the universe in five thematic lectures focusing on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The premier space observatory of the future, the JWST is an engineering triumph that will reveal the early universe, lifecycles of galaxies and stars, and features of faraway worlds. Presentations will be held virtually on Zoom and LPI’s YouTube channel until further notice.


CESS Lineup

The Most Powerful Telescope in Space

Thursday, October 28, 2021
7:00 p.m. CDT

The Most Powerful Telescope in Space

Webb will be the largest, most powerful, and complex space telescope ever built and launched into space. It will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe. Join us to learn about the plans for the JWST mission, its unique capabilities, and the mysteries that it will illuminate.

Dr. Walter Kiefer
Dr. Walter Kiefer

This webinar will be delivered by Dr. Walter Kiefer, the associate director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Dr. Kiefer received his Ph.D. in Planetary Science and Geophysics from Caltech. He specializes in studies of the internal structure and evolution of Venus, the Moon, Mars, Vesta, and Io. Dr. Kiefer is a member of the Gravity and Radio Science team for Europa Clipper and of the newly selected DAVINCI mission to Venus.

Join the event  

Telephone: +16692545252

Webinar ID: 160 382 8298

Watch live on YouTube  

To celebrate the upcoming launch of the JWST, we will also be holding a VEEPS science program on Saturday, October 30 at 3:00 p.m. CDT. Families and children are invited to join us for virtual demonstrations and activities.

Unraveling the Birth of Planetary Systems

Fall 2021

The JWST is primed to unravel the mysteries of the star and planet formation processes. Come hear what we know about how planetary systems form and discover how new observations will revolutionize our understanding of the processes that shaped Earth and the solar system.

Exploring Distant Worlds

Winter 2021/2022

The JWST will gather fundamental new data about the characteristics of planets orbiting stars far beyond our solar system. Join us to explore what we know about exoplanets and the fundamental questions that confound us.

Investigating the Origins of Life

Spring 2022

Webb’s instruments will study the atmospheres of planetary bodies in our solar system and beyond, providing clues about the potential for these other worlds to support life.

Looking Inward:  Exploring our Solar System with Webb

Spring 2022

The JWST abilities will complement NASA’s ongoing planetary missions. Join us to hear how Webb’s data will provide insight into our understanding of Mars and the outer planets, moons, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and more!


This year we’re including additional presentations about diverse and ground-breaking topics in planetary science, from NASA’s return missions to Venus to the psychology of human space travel, which will be held virtually with recordings available online.

CESS+ Lineup

Exploring Inferno:  NASA’s Return to Venus

Winter 2021/2022

Mapping the Interior of Mars

Spring 2022

Having trouble joining?

  • If you experience technical difficulties while using one browser, such as Chrome, try using a different browser (such as Safari).
  • If joining appears very slow, close other programs and windows on your computer or tablet.
  • As a last resort, join us by phone at 346-248-7799; Meeting ID: 937 7647 5407

Watch Recordings

Recordings of past presentations can be viewed on the LPI YouTube channel and in the Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series archive.

Request a Speaker

Scientists and staff of the LPI are available for presentations to schools, civic groups, and other organizations in the Houston region.

Request a Speaker  

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