2018-04-12 / Personalities

Wenner presents program at OLLI@UGA meeting March 26

Peggy Barnett and Dr. David Wenner chat following his OLLI presentation. Peggy Barnett and Dr. David Wenner chat following his OLLI presentation. Dr. David Wenner, retired University of Georgia geologist, described Saturn as a star in our solar system rotating around the sun at the Washington Affiliate, OLLI@ UGA, session Monday, March 26, at the Episcopal Parish House.

“Saturn is nine times larger than the earth and ten times further out in space than we are so it takes thirty years to go around the sun compared with only one year for planet Earth,” Dr. Wenner said. “And it rotates on its own axis but with a 10 1/2-hour day, unlike the earth," he continued.

Dr. Wenner described Saturn as a gas giant, composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. “These elements combine producing traces of water, one requirement for life,” he noted. But Enceladus, the sixth largest moon of Saturn with a 310- mile diameter, was of more interest to Wenner.

Enceladus is geologically active, having many gaseous hydrogen geysers and a rocky core. But its surface temperature is -324 degrees Fahrenheit so it is an ice ball but with a very hot interior. Its atmosphere is composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen as ammonia, thus the basic elements for life. “The search for life is a major goal of NASA,” Dr. Wenner said. He described many fly-bys, the 2005 Cassini space craft being the most productive.

Discussion of his report was lively and he offered more sessions on other space studies.

His doctorate is from Caltech where he was working during some of the more productive days of space flight.

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