Astrophysicist Speaks with Upper School Students

Students in the Upper School welcomed Harrison Agrusa to Parker recently for a series of conversations that were truly out of this world. Agrusa is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland who primarily works on NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission studying the orbital dynamics of the Didymos binary asteroid, the mission’s target. DART is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for preventing an impact of Earth by a hazardous asteroid. 

Agrusa began his visit by meeting with the Astronomy, Modern Physics and Philosophy class before having lunch with the Astrophysics Club and other interested Upper School students. He spoke about near-Earth asteroids and NASA’s planetary defense efforts, with a focus on the DART mission, and about the application of energy and momentum transfer, Keplerian orbits of objects in the solar system and engineering principles that are introduced in physics classes.

“It was great to see that the introductory physics we cover in our classes directly applies to the science professional scientists and engineers like Agrusa use on projects through organizations such as NASA, universities and engineering firms,” Science Department Co-Chair George Austin shared. “He made it very easy for the students to see these connections.”

For students, meeting with experts in their field who use the same information they are learning in class are invaluable to highlighting the importance and value of their lessons. We are extremely grateful to Agrusa for spending time with our students.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.