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Looking Forward to the 2016 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

16-03-2016 12:23 CDT

Topics: conference report

If it's March, it's time for LPSC, the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The 2016 LPSC runs from March 21 to 25; I'll be attending the first three days of it. LPSC is one of two large annual conferences that focus on planetary science. It emphasizes planetary geology -- the mineralogy, petrology, geomorphology, geophysics, and geochemistry of solid worlds -- as opposed to planetary astronomy, which receives a heavier emphasis at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting every October.

The LPSC 2016 program is absolutely packed. Here is the full conference schedule at a glance (PDF), here is the program with links to abstracts (PDF), and here is the personal schedule I've worked out for myself: lots of Mars and Ceres and Pluto, with a smattering of Moon and Mercury and some general sessions on planetary mapping, plus whatever I can pick up at the poster session Tuesday afternoon. I and many other people will be tweeting the talks using the hashtag #LPSC2016.

With as many as five parallel sessions, all on planetary geology, conflicts are inevitable; I always want to clone myself. On Monday morning alone I have to choose between Curiosity, Dawn, and MESSENGER. In the afternoon, the choice is between Chang'e 3, New Horizons, and Curiosity. (Though if the past is any guide, the State Department will narrow that choice by failing to grant visas to the Chinese scientists in time for them to attend to give their talks.) There are two missions that are doing press conferences at the meeting: New Horizons on Monday, and Dawn on Tuesday. Apart from the subjects that I need to follow in order to report on ongoing missions, there are certain people whose talks I always try to attend because they are fantastic speakers who never fail to educate me.

It's impossible for one person to cover it all, so as always I am looking for scientist volunteers to write guest blogs about work presented at the meeting. Have you thought about blogging, but aren't sure how to get started or how to find an audience? This is your chance! I will also be prowling around looking for authors for feature stories for The Planetary Report, so if you have a good story to tell, please find me.

Not everything that happens at LPSC is science. On Monday evening, there will be the usual "NASA Night," where Jim Green (head of science missions at NASA) and Jonathan Rall (head of the grant programs that fund most NASA researchers) will talk about NASA's current and future plans, and listen to scientists' questions and comments. Our own Casey Dreier will be hosting a followup conversation in Waterway 6 during the lunch break on Tuesday on "The 2017 NASA Budget: The Planetary Community Response and Your Q&A". In addition to The Planetary Society, representatives of the American Geophysical Union, Division of Planetary Sciences, and Geological Society of America will also be there.

A few (mostly Pluto-related) events will be Livestreamed or recorded and made available for viewing later, including both press briefings, NASA night, a public lecture by Alan Stern about New Horizons, and one of the Pluto scientific sessions..

Adding to the fun is the annual tradition of the LPSC Haiku. You can read haiku here; if you're a scientist who has submitted an LPSC abstract as a haiku, submit yours here!

The ultimate reason to attend meetings is to see people -- to catch up with friends from grad school, to meet face-to-face with colleagues I interact with virtually, and to make new connections among scientists and trainees doing interesting research. It'll be a busy, but fun, few days!

 
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Comments:

dougforworldsexplr: 03/18/2016 03:06 CDT

Hi Emily; I looked at the general conference schedule and your personal conference schedule for the soon coming Lunar and Planetary Science Conference you will be attending. What interested me most that you will be attending at least part of the "Is There Life on Mars?" session. My question still is and I would be glad to hear from you what you know now but even more if you have some breaking news from the conference after it is over about what the Mars Curiosity rover is doing especially involving the SAM instrument as it was billed as a feature attraction of the mission before and except for the announcement earlier on of NASA using it to find ancient organics in the ground and current elevated sustained methane in the local atmosphere I haven't heard much about NASA's use of the SAM instrument lately. You or some others have mentioned that I think at Pahrump Hills and some other recent places Curiosity did take samples for SAM to instrument but I never heard the results of that especially whether any organics were found. I also haven't heard NASA taking many samples of the ground with SAM recently or of Mars' atmosphere to look for ancient or current organics or methane. Please inform me and other people in The Planetary Society including from what you hear either at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference sessions or talking with people there I think including some from the Curiosity mission what is going on more recently, presently and planned for the near future with Mars Curiosity and what was supposed to be the focus of its mission in the search for past organics in the ground or of current elevated methane in its atmosphere as there seems to be a notable absence of results in these areas to me which is quite disappointing. Although I am glad there was some sustained elevated methane measurements earlier on of Mars' atmosphere I would like to hear including from the LPS conference if biotic/abiotic Mars atmosphere methane distinction is possible now.

Ray Gedaly: 03/20/2016 07:28 CDT

I was at the LPSC Educators Workshop today (Sunday) and got to see the new image of Occator Crater from the Dawn's 240 mile LAMO orbit. I expect it will be released on the Dawn website in the next few days after it's been officially presented at the LPSC. It will knock your socks off.

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