LPSC Round-Up

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Howdy everyone!

I’m fresh back from the latest Lunar & Planetary Science Conference (affectionately referred to as the LPSC), and what a time it was. I ran into a lot of old friends, met some new ones, and wallowed in copious amounts of Moon stuff. The proceedings are found here (pdf).

Since I was on vacation, I didn’t spend my time exclusively at the conference, but rather took advantage of the trip down to Houston to visit a few of my favorite stops, like the Half-Price Books and Space Center Souvenirs down on NASA Road 1, and of course Third Planet, a comic and sci-fi store southwest of downtown. I found a lot of neat additions for the Lunar Library, but as most of them are quite dated you’ll have to dig deep into the different sections to find them, such as the Bioastronautics Data Book (from 1964) or Space Mouse comic (from 1961).

While there wasn’t a publisher’s display room like they had last year, there were a number of display booths that helped to give things a bit of a trade show feel. One popular display was from the Southwest Meteorite Laboratory in Arizona, which had a number of meteorites on display, as well as their newly developed Meteorite Teaching Kits, which at a bit over $2000 are still a bit pricey for the LL, but are nevertheless a significant teaching tool.

There were quite a few educational opportunities to be found, such as the Graduate Program in Earth & Planetary Sciences (E&PS) at Johns Hopkins University, which offers the Bromery Fellowship. When I was at NASA Academy we got to tour the very nice facilities at the JHU Applied Physics Lab, which works in association with E&PS. There was all kinds of neat research going on there.

At the Undergraduate level, the Universities Space Research Association had some flyers for their Undergraduate Student Research Program which offers unique internships with research and development opportunities. Hey, and they also offer scholarships!

The Meteoritical Society had ample numbers of brochures available. They’re going to have their 2009 conference from July 11-13 (Abstracts due April 28) in Nancy, France, with a field trip to Rochechouart Crater. Now that sounds like a smashing good time!

I stopped by the NASA Lunar Science Institute display to ask them to please hurry up with the rejection letters. I submitted my resume for the Director position back in April 2008 (IIRC), and haven’t heard a thing. Directorless, they are nevertheless continuing to advance their agenda, and will help host the NASA 2009 Lunar Science Forum from July 21-23 at NASA Ames (Abstracts due May 22). This happens to be just subsequent to the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace 2009 conference from July 17-20, and also coincides with the ISU Summer Session Program at Ames. It seems to me that for this year’s Moon Day celebrations, NASA Ames is going to be the place to be!

I took Marianne Dyson and Barbara Sprungman David to lunch at a nice Asian place just down 45 from the Woodlands. Barbara was quite happy to announce that Kids to Space and Mission Plans: An Educator’s Guide were given NSTA recommends from the National Science Teachers Association. This is a big step for the books, which are wonderful educational tools, but generally overlooked by the Educational sector here in the U.S., and it serves as a kind of ‘vetting’ for the materials as acceptable for use by educators. For full disclosure, I co-wrote the Moon chapter of Kids to Space.

While having a beer with Paul Spudis, he noted that a sequel to the book that he helped his wife, Anne, write entitled Moonwake was now available at his website. The sequel, Moonwake: The Journey Home looks at the protagonist’s return to Earth, and the inevitable question, which does he prefer: Earth or Moon? There’s also a bonus chapter for Moonwake that bridges the two stories, and the text of the first story is available as well. This one is probably my favorite of the modern Lunar juveniles.

Another neat handout was the Space Weather CD-ROM, produced in part by the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission. It’s available as a freebie when you order Space Update. I grabbed a couple dozen to distribute at our NSS-NT outreach displays here in Dallas. Also mentioned at the website is the CINDI in Space comic produced locally at UTD. I ran into Dr. Urquhart, who helped produce the comic, at her poster, and I may have talked her into helping me out with a Moon Day celebration here in Dallas that I’m trying to put together for Sunday, July 19th at the Frontiers of Flight museum.

Still more research opportunities were on display, although now we’re at the Doctoral level. Folks wanting to spend some time in Cali can apply to the NASA Planetary Science Summer School, which will hold two sessions at JPL this summer. The focus is going to be on The Mission Lifecycle Process, so if you’re looking to be a Principal Investigator on a planetary probe, this might be a good session to check out. Applications are due by May 1st. At the Post Doc level there are several fellowships available for research in Lunar science and exploration at LPI. There’s no firm deadline on this one, but they’re going to start reviewing applicants on May 1st.

In OotC news, I did have lunch with a young lady who has agreed to join the team and post some stories on asteroids, her particular area of study. We’re just at the preliminary stages right now, so it will be a little while before we get the articles up, but it is something new to look forward to here at OotC, and an area that I feel is woefully under-represented in the public discourse.

On the topic of presentations, well, I was on vacation, so I kind of wandered in at my own leisure, but I did make an effort to be at most of the Lunar presentations on Tuesday. One word for budding Lunar scientists: spectroscopy. Learn how to read the squiggly lines, as we’re starting to get better and better data at higher resolution across a number of wavelengths, so it’s going to be important to recognize the spectral signatures of the Lunar mineral types.

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Which reminds me of probably the coolest thing that I saw there. At one of the Kaguya posters they were playing with a really neat Moon globe. They had used the altimetric information gleaned from Kaguya to create a resin globe that was ‘printed’. I’m trying to think of the right phrase, where they use a laser to build an object layer by layer from some kind of goo. In any event, the majorly cool thing was that you could see where the Aitken basin really took a chunk out of the backside of our Moon. The non-sphericalness was plainly evident. The young lady that was there also had a small inflatable Moon globe produced by JAXA. I tried desperately to talk her out of it so that I could add it to the Lunar Library, but she just wasn’t giving it up.

There was lots more besides. I may have made a contact at Honeybee Robotics for a future EVA Interview. The Houston Museum of Natural Science was handing out DVDs of some of their planetarium shows to highlight their new Discovery Domes. The poster “Using Boundary-based Mapping Projections for Morphological Classification of Small Bodies” featured a number of very nice card-stock cut’n’folds of Eros and Ida. (the ones at the conference were much nicer than the ones at the links. Whoa – Chuck just posted the LPSC ones online. That was quick!) LPI Moon posters. It was just a swagfest!

Overall, quite a nice way to spend a week’s vacation.

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