LPSC: Defining Planetary Science - MyMoon

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LPSC: DEFINING PLANETARY SCIENCE

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – If you looked into the sky this weekend, you may have been witness to the phenomenon of the Super Moon, which occurs approximately once every 18 years. When events such as this happen, it sparks a universal conversation about space, the Moon, and what it means in relation to us — the common theme among these topics: planetary science. Just a few weeks ago, similar discussions about the latest research in planetary science were held by specialists and students from around the world at the 5-day 42nd annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in The Woodlands, Texas.

According to the LPSC website, “This is the premiere conference for planetary scientists, and has been a significant focal point for planetary science research since its beginning in 1970.” This year, LPSC was of particular interest to both the planetary science community and to NASA’s Undergraduate Student Research Project (USRP) for two reasons: 1. The Decadal Survey Report, which determines the primary focus of planetary science from 2013 to 2022, was announced, and 2. Melissa Dawson and Jacob Richardson, two USRP interns, were in attendance to present and to receive the 2010 Dwornik Award, respectively.

Dawson has worked at Johnson Space Center with Google Moon, Jacob's Engineering, and USRP for the past two years through both on-site and virtual internships, and has become a Google Moon expert of sorts. However, for Dawson, LPSC was her first chance to be exposed to conference culture and to take part in the Dwornik competition. She said, “My role at the conference was [as] a student poster presenter. Before the conference, my NASA mentor, , and a few others designed a poster based on my work with the Google Moon project.”

Dawson then noted the benefits of being able to attend a professional technical conference, stating, “LPSC definitely helped my presenting abilities. I talked with a number of people, from students to managers, which of course helped me network right before graduation!”

Richardson, a USRP alumnus from Goddard Space Flight Center, had attended LPSC last year as an oral presenter, and he returned this year to claim his prize and to network. “This autumn, I will begin grad school studying planetary geology and while I’ve met many of the people I will be researching with during the next few years, I wanted a place to meet with prospective advisors,” said Richardson. “LPSC...helped me form my understanding of how to pursue graduate studies.”

When speaking with both Richardson and Dawson at the conference, I noticed they were just as excited about the scientific knowledge they could gain at LPSC as they were to connect with the best and brightest minds in their fields, making contacts that one day may be able to help them navigate their way into the planetary science industry.

Richardson attested, “LPSC is a great networking environment,” and as the two time veteran of the conference he understands that “the hardest part about going to a conference as a young scientist is getting out of your comfort zone“, advising students “to meet new people.”

He explained, “The poster sessions are key to getting exposure to different kinds of science and meeting new people. At the LPSC poster sessions, you can wander the aisles; when something piques your interest, it is always acceptable to ask the poster presenter to give a ‘tour’ of her poster. If there’s not a line of people waiting to talk about the poster, it’s perfectly fine to ask more off-topic questions about grad school and careers. The great part about LPSC is that since so many people are grad students themselves, no one has forgotten what it’s like to be the scared undergrad alone at the big conference.”

Stephanie Shipp, Education Manager for the Lunar and Planetary Institute, one of the hosting organizations for LPSC, put the conference into perspective when she ascertained, “LPSC is dedicated to the planetary science community; it is just as much a conference for the students as it is for the scientists, and the exchange of ideas and research that happens here is beneficial to all.”

COMMUNITY COMMENTS:

Kierra P.

Sunday Aug-14-2011

Blogs have become like short fictions and you are one of those blessed people who have the art of storytelling in a picture perfect manner. I appreciate the gift that you have and this is the reason, why I always make it a point to put up my comments as a token of appreciation for your great blogs.


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