LPL alumna and E/PO lead for OSIRIS-REx, Anna Spitz, is one of the editors of a new volume (September 2013) from the University of Arizona Press.Encountering Life in the Universe: Ethical Foundations and Social Implications of Astrobiology, edited by Chris Impey, Anna H. Spitz, and William Stoeger, "examines the intersection of scientific research and socity to further explore the ethics of how to behave in a universe where much is unknown."
On Monday, March 25th, I had the honor to give two briefings on the OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission to policy makers in Washington DC. OSIRIS-REx will visit asteroid 1999 RQ36, a carbon‐ and water‐rich object that is also one of the most potentially hazardous near‐Earth asteroids. This visit was scheduled in conjunction with the OSIRIS-REx Independent Assessment Review (IAR) on March 26th. The IAR is the last of a mission Preliminary Design Reviews and focuses on the credibility of the management, cost, and schedule plans.
In celebration of Women's History Month 2013 (Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), the OSIRIS-REx team developed some online resources for promoting celebrating women in STEM careers. Several current and former LPL faculty, staff, and students are featured, including Nadine Barlow, Veronica Bray, Kat Crombie, Renu Malhotra, Elisabetta Pierazzo, and Elizabeth Roemer.
The first LPL Women's lunch had an impressive turnout of 36 women, representing alumnae, faculty, staff, and grad students, and many people who are combinations thereof. We came from the Kuiper, Sonett, and Drake buildings as well as JHUAPL, BYU, and Caltech (thanks to the Titan Working Group Meeting for bringing the out-of-towners). As a result of the lunch, our email discussion list has grown from less than twenty members to over fifty. Anyone interested in joining the email list can subscribe here.
The UA Campus played host again this spring to the annual Tucson Festival of Books. This year's event, the fifth annual festival, was held March 9-10, 2013; the event was a huge success despite some wild spring weather at the start.
Whether by telescope or spacecraft, when we look at the surfaces of other planets we do so through remote sensing instruments. There is a wide variety of such instruments from Synthetic Aperture Radars to visible wavelength cameras and an even wider range of geologic features to examine from sand dunes to lava flows. On Earth, remote sensing is further complicated by vegetation and features constructed by humans. However, there is one great advantage to remote sensing data analysis on the Earth – you can actually visit the site to test your conclusions…
Despite our tendency to crisscross the whole southwestern U.S. on these trips, there is an incredibly interesting geologic story sitting on our doorstep here in the Tucson area. There has been growing interest among the fieldtrip group in understanding more about the processes that have fashioned the local landscape around Tucson and that was finally satisfied this semester.