Subject: [DPS Members] DPS Mailing #09-08: Prizewinners, Decadal Survey, TPS...

Issue 09-08, May 17th 2009

1) DPS Prizewinners
2) Planetary Science Decadal Survey Steering Group Appointed
3) PBS Web Site: Educational Resources on Telescopes and Astronomy
4) Consider Joining The Planetary Society



We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 DPS prizes, as

Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of
planetary science:

Toby C. Owen

Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research
by a young scientist:

Sarah T. Stewart-Mukhopadhyay

Harold Masursky Award for outstanding service to planetary science and

No award this year

Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary
scientist to the general public:

Steven W. Squyres

Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award to recognize and
stimulate distinguished popular writing on planetary sciences:

J. Kelly Beatty

Congratulations to all the prizewinners, thanks to the prize committee
for their difficult work, and special thanks to all those people who
submitted nominations for the prizes.



The Chair of the National Research Council has approved the selection
of the following individuals as members of the Steering Group for the
Planetary Science Decadal Survey: Wendy M. Calvin, University of
Nevada, Reno; Dale Cruikshank, NASA Ames Research Center; Pascale
Ehrenfreund, George Washington University and Leiden Institute of
Chemistry; G. Scott Hubbard, Stanford University; Wesley T. Huntress,
Jr., Carnegie Institution of Washington; Margaret G. Kivelson,
University of California, Los Angeles; B. Gentry Lee, Jet Propulsion
Laboratory; Jane Luu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln
Laboratory; Stephen Mackwell, Lunar and Planetary Institute; Ralph
L. McNutt, Jr., Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory;
Harry Y. McSween, Jr., University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Amy
Simon-Miller, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; David J. Stevenson,
California Institute of Technology; and A. Thomas Young, Lockheed
Martin Corporation [Retired].

The appointment of Steven W. Squyres, Cornell University, and Laurence
A. Soderblom, U.S. Geological Survey, as, respectively, the chair and
vice chair of the Steering Group was announced in March.



A new web site, accompanying the PBS television special "400 Years of
the Telescope," offers background information, classroom and family
activities, and practical tips for everyone who is teaching about the
development of telescopes, the history of astronomy, or the
exploration of the universe.


Information on the site was put together by the educational staff of
the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and Interstellar Studios, the
production company that made the TV special.

Both the TV show and the web site are among the key outreach projects
of the International Year of Astronomy in 2009.



I'm writing to urge you to consider becoming a member of The Planetary
Society (TPS). I've been a member of TPS, on and off, since I was in
high school in the 1980s, and I've recently become President their
Board of Directors. For me, being a member of TPS is a wonderful and
important complement to being a member of the DPS. I'd like to
explain why.

I remember the era when TPS was formed (in 1979 by our colleagues Carl
Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Lou Friedman) as a pretty bleak time for
planetary exploration. Of course, Voyager Jupiter/Saturn had been a
huge success, but for a kid interested in space exploration there was
little else to celebrate. I knew that there was wide public support
for missions of discovery and the scientific research that would flow
from them, but the prevailing wisdom in Congress and the
Administration was that the public had little or no interest in
exploring the worlds around us. Carl, Bruce, and Lou knew that wasn't
the case, which is why they set out to form a large public membership
organization that could demonstrate loudly and clearly that planetary
exploration was an endeavor the public supported enthusiastically.

They were right. Within a few years, The Planetary Society became the
largest, most respected space interest group in the world (membership
numbers have ranged from 50,000 to 100,000 over the years) and a
potent force in support of planetary exploration. The Society's
constituency is the general public-its focus is missions of planetary
exploration. No other organization has those two attributes.

The DPS was instrumental in the Society's formation and
success. Before I became a professional planetary scientist, TPS was
my main connection to "inside" information, and to the people-many of
whom were DPS members-who were actually doing planetary
exploration. Our two organizations have maintained a close and
symbiotic relationship, together fighting many battles in Washington.
For example, recently TPS is embarked on a "Save Our Science" campaign
that is called, among other things, restoration of key R&A funding
cuts that were implemented in the FY06-FY07 NASA budget. Many of
those cuts have been restored in recent budgets. While it's
impossible to really know what percentage of the credit for this
restoration is due to TPS's efforts (many groups, including DPS, were
beating the same drum), TPS was certainly one of the most vocal and
visible advocates of restoring balance to NASA's R&A efforts. This
intensive political advocacy continues (for outer planets missions,
Arecibo, the Mars program, and other efforts) and is being done on
behalf of space science and planetary exploration.

A strong relationship between TPS and DPS has never been more
important than now, because we are in an era of significant
uncertainty. Given the political and fiscal environment and the
distractions of world events, there is uncertainty about current
budgets and priorities in space exploration. While there is palpable
excitement about new discoveries and future exploration opportunities
at Mars, Saturn, and other places in our solar system (and even in
other solar systems), there is also palpable worry about the future.
I believe that it is more important than ever that our communities
present a strong, solid front in Washington and around the world, and
that we demonstrate that our admittedly expensive work is still
strongly supported by the public at large. To do that, I believe that
DPS and TPS need to work together in our common causes, and for the
advancement of science and exploration.

If you're already a member of TPS, thank you. I hope that you're
taking the opportunity to communicate the exciting results of your
research to other members and the public, and to be the kind of
"insider" advocate for planetary and space exploration that I so
enjoyed hearing and reading about as a kid. If you're not yet a
member of TPS, please consider joining today
(, or volunteering some of your
time for TPS events and causes. There are different categories of
dues but they are about 30$/year (less for students), and you'll start
receiving the Society's informative magazine, The Planetary Report, as
soon as you join.

This is a critical time for planetary science. Now, more than ever,
we need public support and advocacy, and the strongest possible
connections between professionals in the field and the tens of
thousands of motivated laypeople interested in space exploration who
are already TPS members. The Planetary Society is leading that
effort. Please join with us.


Jim Bell
Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University
President, Board of Directors, The Planetary Society
Chair, DPS Committee Federal Relations Subcommittee