Steve Conard image

Steve Conard: The New Horizons Mission from LORRI’s Viewpoint

Amateur Observers’ Society of New York presents Steve Conard, avid astronomer and career optical systems engineer at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).

The New Horizons spacecraft collected data at Jupiter, the Pluto system, and the small Kuiper Belt Object Arrokoth during a flybys in 2007, 2015, and 2019 respectively.  Steve will discuss building LORRI, the preparations for the encounters, and the data collected by the LORRI instrument.  Future plans for New Horizons LORRI science activities will also be covered.

From sounding rockets studying the far ultraviolet spectrum of the upper atmosphere to checking on a science payload in a Space Shuttle bay to planning for exploration at the fringes of the solar system, Steve Conard has had his mind focused on near and deep space for what seems his entire life.  An optical systems engineer for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, he traces his career to enjoying telescope making as a teenager.  Building upon undergraduate studies at SUNY-Ulster and the University of Arizona, Steve came to Johns Hopkins University and found a home for the last 41 years.  Following his rocketry days in JHU’s Physics Department, his energies were devoted to NASA’s Astro-1 & 2 Space Shuttle and FUSE missions.  In 2002, Steve fully transitioned to JHU’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), the nation’s largest university-affiliated research center.  After building instruments for NASA’s CONTOUR mission, he began work on the culmination of his career, New Horizons.  As leader of the engineering team that built and tested the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) instrument aboard New Horizons, he’s had a privileged view since the inception of this historic first mission to Pluto.  Today, after relocating to the Pennsylvania dark sky region, he works part-time on a variety of projects, including continued work on New Horizons and LORRI for NASA’s Lucy mission to the Jupiter Trojan Asteroids.  An avid amateur astronomer, Steve is a founding member (along with the esteemed Gary Citro) of the Pennsylvania Wilds Astronomy Club.  His main amateur interest is as a member of the International Occultation Timing Association measuring the size and shape of small solar system bodies.  Steve is also a devotee of minor league baseball, craft beers and railroading history.


Dec 03 2023


1:30 pm - 4:00 pm


Hofstra University

Location 2

Berliner Hall room 117


Amateur Observers' Society of New York