Of Geologists

I have decided they purposely placed all the pretty talks at the end of the data just to keep me in my chair. JAXA is currently showing off all the pretty pictures from KAGUYA and it is brain candy. Really. Go see here and here. As I watch, I’m also watching the audience and taking in the culture. I am the product of an astronomy education. I am a child of the AAS meeting. These are very different people, but I find this a comfortable culture to immerse myself in for a few days. They dress much more relaxed – jeans and hoodies are randomly warn by elder scientists and the grad students while polo shirts and cargo pants seems to almost be a uniform. They all have computers (mostly Macs), but in the sessions they behave and pay attention to the speaker...

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The Moon is Made of Minerals

Here is where I admit I have never taken Geology or Organic Chemistry. This is my third time coming to LPSC and each time I come I learn there are more minerals yet to learn. Today I spent my morning sitting in on sessions involving the new data coming down from the Lunar Missions Kaguya, Chang’e-1 and Chandrayaan-1. I’ll be doing the same this afternoon, and right now I’m sitting in a session on “What does the community want in future Moon Missions?” The first thing I personally learned is I need to learn what more minerals mean and why they matter on the moon. To this end, I have received the following book recommendations: The Lunar Source Book, and New Views on the Moon. I will be beginning for my university to get both as soon...

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THE NASA Meeting

One of the either high points or low points (emotionally) of every LPSC is the NASA meeting. This year I have some sense that this will be a good experience for all. We have a new administration, we have new NASA HQ staff, and we know a new NASA director is on the way. Life just might be good for all. The night is starting with Steph Stockman (geosteph on twitter), the nes SMD Lead for Education and Public Outreach. It’s nice to see her up there looking like a geologist instead of the past person who was a bit hard to approach in her expensive suit, expensive hair, and very professional everything, down to make up and nails. Don’t get me wrong, the last person was friendly. She just made me feel like a slob every time I talked to her. Steph is...

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Habitable Martian Pole

Carol Stoker and Suzanne Young just presented a pair of presentation on the habitability of Mars. Bottomline: The Mars Phoenix Landing Site is capable of supporting life today. The also calculated a habitability index for the various sites landers have explored on Mars. If a site has a probability of supporting life greater than 50%, it is considered reasonable to go looking for life using dedicated experiments. To calculate the Habitability Index, they create something similar to the Drake Equation. Here, the habitability index is the product of the probability that liquid water has been present, the probability of a biologically abailable energy source, the probability that chemical building blocks available, and the probability that the environment is benign...

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Classifying Planets

Classifying Planets

This year’s Masursky Lecture is being given by Alan Stern. Stern seriously earned my respect last year in the face of a disgruntled room of geophysicists who didn’t have the nuclear engines they needed, who’d been told that Mars was not a funding priority, and who had been saddled with manned moon plans. He handled them all with respect and then left NASA the very next week. I’m glad the world of science has grabbed him back from the clutches of administration. His talk focused on who planets are defined and classified. As we gear up for this summer’s IAU General Assembly, many folks are wondering if (hoping really) they will clarify what is and is not a planet. As a starting point he explained that the discussion originated from the...

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