Despite the best efforts of many different kinds of gremlins, I have managed to arrive in Houston to attend the 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, at least the first 2.5 days of it. It is passing strange to be in any location for more than a few hours without either of my children or my husband. Accomplishing that took quite a monumental amount of effort. (So much effort that Mike Brown, yes Pluto killer Mike Brown, remarked on why on Earth I chose to expend so much effort to relieve myself of kids and husband and then use this freedom to attend LPSC. I have to admit that that's a good question. But I am here!)
What do I plan to do while I am here? I've pored over the program (PDF format), which is always a bit of a heartbreaking thing to do; there are always concurrent interesting sessions. I've mapped out my plan for the conference and am going to attempt to cover stuff from the Moon (which is bigger at LPSC than it has been in any of the many other years I have attended this conference), as well as Mars, Venus, Mercury, and the icy moons of the outer solar system as evenly as I possibly can. Tomorrow looks like a good day for Mars and Venus. Tuesday will be Moon, icy moons, and Mercury. Wednesday morning I haven't figured out yet.
I will certainly be Tweeting a lot from inside the sessions. I am not sure how much time I will find for writing long blog entries -- LPSC is always a balancing act between attending sessions and spending time writing about the sessions. But of course the main reason I go to the trouble to physically attend a conference is to have those random or planned face-to-face meetings with people, to catch up on lives personal and professional. I get much less of that now than I used to so I may find myself getting up from the sessions and wandering the hallways now and then just to see who I can find. Those sorts of meetings I never "report" on, exactly, but it's because of those interactions that I can make the connections I have to friends -- not just professional acquaintances, but friends -- who are doing the real work of operating robotic spacecraft, and from whom I get so much of the material for this blog.
I would like to attempt to conduct a Ustream chat while I'm here just to report on the goings-on, but am not yet sure when that will be feasible. Stay tuned to this space, and, if you can stand it, follow me on Twitter to catch the up-to-the-minute reports from all the sessions here.
And to the family who are taking care of my kids for three days so I can do this, a very very big thank you!!