Date: July 18, 2010

Title: Lunar Forum 2010 Preview


Podcaster: NASA Lunar Science Institute, with Greg Schmidt, Doris Daou and Nancy Atkinson

Organization: NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI)

Description: The NASA Lunar Science Institute will be hosting the 3rd annual NASA Lunar Science Forum, to be held July 20-22, 2010, at the NASA Ames Conference Center at Moffett Field, California, near San Jose. This year’s forum will feature sessions on recent scientific results as well as talks on future opportunities for lunar science, education and outreach. To preview some of the highlights of the Forum, Nancy Atkinson talks with Greg Schmidt, the Deputy Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute, and Doris Daou, the Institute’s Director for Education and Public Outreach.

Bio: The NLSI brings together leading lunar scientists from around the world to further NASA lunar science and exploration.

Nancy Atkinson is a science journalist, Senior Editor for Universe Today and project manager for 365 Days of Astronomy.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by the NASA Lunar Science Institute at, which is bringing lunar science to a new generation. Learn more about the annual Lunar Science Forum occurring July 20-22nd at


It’s a meeting of lunar proportions! Hi this is Nancy Atkinson. The NASA Lunar Science Institute will be hosting the 3rd annual NASA Lunar Science Forum, to be held July 20-22, 2010, at the NASA Ames Conference Center at Moffett Field, California, near San Jose. This year’s forum will feature sessions on recent scientific results as well as talks on future opportunities for lunar science, education and outreach. To preview some of the highlights of the Forum, with me today are Greg Schmidt, the Deputy Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute, and Doris Dauo, the Institute’s Director for Education and Public Outreach.

Doris, could you tell us about some of the events that will be going on during the week?

Doris Dauo: Certainly, the first day is Tuesday July 20, that evening we will have what we call the Shoemaker Event, which will commemorate the life and work of Gene Shoemaker, one of the founders of the field of planetary science and really a pioneer in lunar sciences. The Shoemaker Medal for lifetime contribution to lunar science will also be awarded as part of the event. Also on Wednesday we have a public event that is open to the public. That’s on July 21st at 7 pm. This one has two talks with two great public figures in science and science communication. The first one is author and space historian Andrew Chaikin who will be discussing lunar exploration. The second one is by astronomer and artist, who is going to give a multimedia presentation about commutating science through art. I’m really looking forward to these presentations; they will be very, very engrossing.

Nancy: Yes, I’m really looking forward to those presentations as well. Greg, could you tell us about what you think will be some of the highlights of the week?

Greg Schmidt: I think we have a really, really great week ahead of us. One of the changes I can say that we’ll have for this conference over previous ones, whereas in previous ones we were talking a lot about planning for the future, now we’ll be talking about science results. So, we’ll be shifting our emphasis in a way. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been in orbit around the Moon for over a year now and is returning just some fabulous results including the most high resolution map of the entire Moon, so there’s just some fantastic science that we’re getting from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. In addition, we have some new results from the LCROSS mission, which if the listeners will remember, impacted the Moon last October. The idea for the LCROSS mission was to look for water and it found water in the permanently shaded craters of the Moon’s poles. What’s interesting about this upcoming week is that they will also be talking about some of the other things that were detected with the LCROSS mission, and in particular that the surface in these permanently shadowed craters, at least where LCROSS hit, was a lot different than expected. So we’re set for some great, great science.

Nancy: Wonderful! What are some of the sessions that you are particularly looking forward to, Greg?

Greg Schmidt: Well, I am looking forward to attending a session on the astrophysics of the Moon. One of our investigators, Dr. Jack Burns from the University of Colorado Boulder is doing investigations that will lead to a radio telescope on the far side of the Moon. The exciting thing about this is that it will be able to peer back in time to an era of the Universe that we’ve never seen before. And there’s something almost poetic, I would say, about looking to this era because we’ll be able to see when the very first stars in the Universe turned on. And I think this is Nobel quality research once we get our radio instruments up, so I look forward very, very much to hearing those exciting results.

We also have some new science that is going on with lunar plasmas and dust. There have been some very interesting papers published recently – two of our science institute teams are doing research on that. So all of that combined is just going to make for a fantastic conference.

One of the things I wanted to mention as well, is we have the very first mini-conference ahead of our main one. It has been organized by and for our graduate students. We call it Lunar Grad-Con and we’re bringing 25 of the graduate students doing studies in lunar science together and they are going to discuss their results with each other. I think this is just fantastic. One of our foremost elements of our mission at the Lunar Science Institute is to help develop the next generation of lunar scientists and that’s what this particular meeting is all about.

We have another meeting, and this is the second in a row associated with the Lunar Science Forum. It is called the Next Generation Lunar Scientists and Engineers They are young professionals, generally but not exclusively. just past being graduate students with their doctorates that are doing research in lunar science, so they are a little bit farther along their career ladder but still fairly young. And so we’re very enthusiastically sponsoring them as well.

Doris Dauo: And this year is our first year where we not only have the scientists and graduate students and young career scientists, but we also have high school students who have been doing research for our lunar scientists, and they will be coming to the conference and presenting posters about their experiences, as well as the science results they have gotten from their internship.

Greg Schmidt: Also, on the very last day, and we’ve done this each of the three years that we’ve hosted the conference here, we are sponsoring a Lunar Exploration Analysis League, its called. This is an independent group that reports to the NASA Advisory Council, and does work basically synthesizing road maps and kind of, I guess, creating a “to-do” list for the Moon. You know, the Moon is just a different, much more exciting place than we ever realized from a just a handful of years ago, so this group is taking the results and seeing where we need to go.

Nancy: So, the main goals of the lunar forum are to share science and plan ahead for the future, are they any other things that you hope the forum will accomplish?

Greg Schmidt: Well, I think we want to report on mission results, we want to get people to look at the next generation of missions of where we might go after the next step of this highly successful Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS. We do have a mission in planning called LADEE, that’s going to launch in roughly in 2012, I believe, late 2012 that’s the Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer. But we want to look beyond that as well.

But another really big thing that I should really emphasize is that this conference, this Lunar Forum is not just about the United States. The world is returning to the Moon. We’ve seen in recent years very, very successful lunar orbiters have been launched by China, Japan and more recently India. Each of these countries have a plan for researching, doing science on the Moon and we are interested in knowing what they are doing and what many other countries around the world are doing. So, I believe it’s about 60 of the 500 or so participants next week are from beyond the United States and we are very tickled to be working with them, too. So we have just one heck of an exciting week ahead of us.

Nancy: Oh, that’s great. Anything else that the public should know about the Lunar Forum?

Doris Daou: Well, as I said, every year when we have the Lunar Forum we have a public event and I’m really hoping the public will be curious and come and join us. But also, if they don’t have the means to come and join us we plan on after the Forum to have some of these talks on our website, which is and hopefully we can film some of the talks.

Nancy: Oh, wonderful. Well, thanks very much Doris Daou and Greg Schmidt for this preview of the Lunar Forum. And to our listeners, we hope you can join us for the public events, and also stay tuned for future podcasts that will discuss some of the science results that were presented at the Forum. Until next time this is Nancy Atkinson for the NASA Lunar Science Institute.

End of podcast:

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