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Desert Moon: A documentary about LPL's founding and early years

On June 27, LPL hosted the first viewing of the film "Desert Moon," a documentary about some of the ways that southern Arizona was involved with the early days of the lunar exploration program in the 1960s.  Naturally, a lot of it is about people who were at LPL at the time (e.g., Gerard P. Kuiper, Ewen A. Whitaker, Alan Binder, Charles Wood, Dale Cruikshank, William Hartmann). The film was produced by recent UA Journalism graduate Jason Davis as part of a NASA Arizona Space Grant graduate fellowship.

fall 2014 Department News

Desert Moon: A documentary about LPL's founding and early years

On June 27, LPL hosted the first viewing of the film "Desert Moon," a documentary about some of the ways that southern Arizona was involved with the early days of the lunar exploration program in the 1960s.  Naturally, a lot of it is about people who were at LPL at the time (e.g., Gerard P. Kuiper, Ewen A. Whitaker, Alan Binder, Charles Wood, Dale Cruikshank, William Hartmann). The film was produced by recent UA Journalism graduate Jason Davis as part of a NASA Arizona Space Grant graduate fellowship. Captain Mark Kelly, a former astronaut who was commander of the last Space Shuttle mission, is the film's narrator.

"Desert Moon" shows regularly at the Flandrau Planetarium on the UA campus. Visit the "Desert Moon" site to see the film trailer, read the "short stories," and access bonus scenes. Some of the story behind "Desert Moon" is also available from UA News.

To the Moon: Ranger 7 and LPL

fall 2014 Department News

To the Moon: Ranger 7 and LPL

LPL was featured in the Tucson Weekly cover story (To The Moon, July 21, 2014) commemorating the 50th anniversary of Ranger 7 (July 31, 1964), the first U.S. spacecraft to take close-up images of the Moon. The article centers on Gerard P. Kuiper and his role in the mission as Principal Investigator, the space race, and the establishment of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Much of the story is told through personal recollections of Ewen Whitaker (part of Kuiper's team of experimenters for the mission), who provides insider details about the politics and personalities of the time. The article also reminds readers of the world's reaction to the mission and the implications of the science. The article served as an apt complement to this summer's Everything Lunar event and to the première of Desert Moon.

Everything Lunar at LPL

LPL's 2014 summer outreach event was themed "Everything Lunar: Celebrating the Past, Exploring the Future." The festivities were held on July 20 to mark the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing; approximately 600 guests attended.

Activities and exhibits were varied and included:

fall 2014 Department News

Everything Lunar at LPL

LPL's 2014 summer outreach event was themed "Everything Lunar: Celebrating the Past, Exploring the Future." The festivities were held on July 20 to mark the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing; approximately 600 guests attended.

Activities and exhibits were varied and included:

  • tours of the University of Arizona Electron Microprobe Lab
  • robotics design and testing
  • comet creations, cratering experiments, and telescopes
  • exhibits of Apollo mission hardware
  • meteorite exhibit, including a lunar meteorite
  • information about the Apollo program
  • story time with Mr. Nature Goes to the Moon

Professor Gene Giacomelli (Director, UA Controlled Environment Agriculture Center) lectured on "Creating a Lunar Greenhouse" and Professor Timothy D. Swindle (Head and Director, Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory) spoke about "Studying the Apollo Lunar Samples Four Decades Later." LPL was also able to host a very well received showing of "Desert Moon," the documentary film by Jason Davis that tells the story of the origins of LPL and its contributions to the Apollo missions.

Visitors had the opportunity to speak with scientists about their research and work with the Apollo missions:

  • Dr. Spencer Titley (Professor Emeritus, Department of Geosciences) trained the Apollo astronauts-to-be about the geology of the Moon and gave them field experience with moon-like geological features at Arizona's Meteor Crater and other locations
  • Mr. Ewen Whitaker (Research Scientist, retired, Department of Planetary Sciences/LPL), worked with Dr. Gerard Kuiper to produce lunar atlases in preparation for the Apollo landings; he is an expert on lunar nomenclature and author of "Mapping and Naming the Moon"
  • Mr. Jim Scotti (Research Specialist Senior, LPL Spacewatch)
  • Dr. Veronica Bray (Associate Staff Scientist, Department of Planetary Sciences/LPL), Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LROC) team
  • Dr. Julia Bodnarik (Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Department of Planetary Sciences/LPL) uses lunar exploration neutron detectors onboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to understand hydrogen migration on the Moon
  • Ms. Dolores Hill (Research Specialist, Senior, Department of Planetary Sciences/LPL) analyzes meteorites

Thanks to all our exhibitors, volunteers, and guests for making the day so fun and educational!

LPL's Veronica Bray answered a lot of great questions about the Moon!
Lunar Sample number 15015,78 (016) was on display, as was a lot of Apollo
mission history.
Cratering experiments!
Telescopes before...
Telescopes after...
Mr. Nature Goes to the Moon!
Spencer Titley and Ewen Whitaker
Apollo mission hardware

LPLC 2014

by Margaret Landis

fall 2014 Department News

LPLC 2014

by Margaret Landis

This year’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory Conference (LPLC) was held August 21 and 22 in the Kuiper Space Sciences Building. Forty-seven talks and two posters were presented over the two days, culminating in a keynote talk by LPL's Dr. Travis Barman. The talk, titled "Imaging Exoplanets," described the science and technology of direct imaging extrasolar systems. A reception jointly hosted by LPL and Steward Observatory followed.

Five invited talks were given, with speakers from LPL, Steward Observatory, and the Department of Geosciences. Contributed talks also included speakers from College of Optical Sciences and the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

A graduate student talk competition was held the first day of the conference, judged by Drs. Travis Barman, Joe Giacalone, and Ilaria Pascucci, with eleven LPL graduate students participating. James Keane won the award for Best Talk, with Sarah Morrison and Melissa Dykhuis receiving honorable mentions.

“It couldn’t have happened without some of the best organizers I’ve worked with,” said Michelle Thompson about her experience working with co-organizers, Kelly Miller and Margaret Landis.

Registration and abstracts for the 2015 LPLC will open late summer 2015.

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