Emily LakdawallaMar 10, 2008

LPSC: A short visit already over

Well, my one full day of attending scientific sessions at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference is now over. I spent the morning attending the session on MESSENGER mission results, and the afternoon jogging back and forth between two meeting rooms to see more MESSENGER presentations interspersed with stuff from the Kaguya moon mission, followed by a few presentations in a session titled: "Outer Planet Satellites: Not Titan, Not Enceladus." It was a lot to take in and I'm sure I'll be digesting my notes for several days -- especially because I'll be spending the next two days visiting family and will consequently not have much time for analyzing my notes -- and during all of this Cassini is diving toward its closest-ever encounter with Enceladus, an event that will culminate in it buzzing the moon at a distance of 50 kilometers at 19:06:12 UTC on March 12, which I must find some time to write about somehow.

One of the highlights of the conference was a large, I'm guessing 50-inch, television screen parked in the main lobby that was showing a continuous loop of high-definition video from Kaguya. The video was clipped into segments, each a minute long, from different days and different orbits, featuring different parts of the Moon. At all times a semicircle of rapt scientists was gathered around the TV screen, oohing and aahing over the sharp images of the lunar landscape passing slowly across the screen. They'd point out features to each other, noticing chains of secondary craters here, collapsed crater rims there, beautiful mottled coloration in this or that lunar mare.

A gaggle of scientists checks out the HD video from Kaguya

Emily Lakdawalla

A gaggle of scientists checks out the HD video from Kaguya
Scientists gather in the lobby outside the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference hall to watch high-definition video from the Kaguya mission to the Moon.