Newsletter 12-29

Issue 12-29, December 19, 2012



At the recent AGU meeting, NASA’s John Grunsfeld announced that NASA will send a MSL type rover to Mars in 2020. This was met by our community with a mixture of relief (we have a science mission and it can be a great one) and dismay (what about the specific caching mission outlined by the Planetary Science Decadal Survey?).

Before we start throwing basaltic stones (or even the odd meteorite) at the 2020 Mars rover, let’s give the mission’s Science Definition Team (SDT) the chance to do their job. These are our colleagues, and in their place we would want the same courtesy. The colleagues I have talked to who may be on that SDT (it has not been put in place yet) are fully behind the Decadal and know that they need to be responsive to its science priorities.

Assuming the Mars 2020 SDT does indeed follow the Decadal and defines sample caching as an essential element of the mission, the Mars 2020 mission will be good news for all of us. Good news for our Mars colleagues for the obvious reason, but good news for everyone else in that it clears the plate of the Decadal’s top Flagship priority so that NASA can proceed with other priorities, IF the budget is restored.

That is where we come in. We must continue to speak with one voice for restoration of the planetary budget to $1.5B so that the full suite of recommendations of the Decadal can be implemented. If we deviate from unity at this critical point we will come across as a fragmented community and risk losing our hard-earned support with our key Congressional allies.

We should thank the Obama Administration for allowing NASA to move forward with the new Mars mission that was devised by the MPPG in response to their request for a less costly Mars mission. At the same time, we should continue to ask the Administration and Congress to restore the budget cuts so that NASA can implement the full program recommended by the NRC. Only through the balanced mix of the strategic flagship missions (Mars and Europa), competed missions (Discovery and New Frontiers), healthy R&A funding and advanced technology development can we make genuine progress toward answering the two overarching questions of the Decadal Survey, the same questions humans have been asking for a very long time: how did our solar system come to be, and is there life outside our Earth?

– Rosaly Lopes,
DPS Chair


On Thursday, December 13, 2012 the DPS/FRS went down to the Hill and visited 8 House offices and 4 Senate offices, focusing on the key members of the House SST and Senate CJS committees. We (Lisse, McNutt, Verbiscer, Roman, and Knight) delivered updated versions of our Decadal handout and an advocacy letter for the funding we would like to see restored in the FY2013 budget, as well as a compendium of ten op-ed pieces published since the Curiosity landing supporting continued funding for planetary science. Our message, worked out in collaboration with the DPS Committee leadership, was the same as delivered in May 2012, that the House Report of April 2012 was a good target, and followed the 2012 Decadal relatively closely.

We found good knowledge of the Decadal and support for our budget position from all the offices we visited, especially on the House side. In fact, other groups have already helped advocate for a $1.5 B level of funding, while the House report we advocated asks for $1.4B. We also heard that Congress expects to be back at work right after Christmas, on the fiscal cliff agenda. Right now they are mostly in a lull, at least on the House side, and still moving offices – we saw furniture lying in the halls everywhere. I believe we still have some work to do in advocating in the Senate, to help the House/Senate compromise effort come to fruition in an appropriate manner. It is not clear to me how well the 2 chambers have been talking, nor if they have very different agendas vis-à-vis the Administration’s FY2013 and FY2014 budgets. I do understand that the individual chamber markups have now happened.

We also were asked to provide information concerning the current state of Pu-238 reprocessing. And we heard that surface mail letters from constituents to their elected representatives have a real effect, especially when received in quantity (each office typically counts its letter rate per month on a given subject). This suggests we should do our best to match our DPS community members with their elected representatives, and ask them if they could write a letter to their Representative and Senators supporting our message.

There was also notice of an important groundswell of House interest and support for the “Space Leadership Act” (introduced by Reps. Culberson, Wolf, Posey, and Olson on 20 Sept 2012 and co-sponsored by Sensenbrenner and Smith, among 9 other Republicans and 2 Democrats). Along with a new NRC Report, “NASA’s Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus” (released on 5 Dec 2012), and a House hearing held on 12 Dec 2012 (the day before our visits) concerning “The Future of NASA: Perspectives on Strategic Vision for America’s Space Program”, this act could make important structural changes to NASA, to help insulate it vs. rapid political changes along the lines of how NIH and NSF are currently run. I can’t tell if the push for the Space Leadership Act will affect our current budget and structural issues, but I do recommend the DPS Committee discuss this soon and form a position on the subject. We did get some very probing questions from the House SST Committee staffers we met with on these issues.

– Carey Lisse, DPS/FRS Chair


The due date (7 January) for responses to the SALSO call ( is rapidly approaching. NASA is seeking input for what to do with a mirror system from NRO.

Let’s not be left out … Wouldn’t it be great if this system could be used for planetary observations? We can make that happen with efforts from the community to build a strong case for doing so. Please consider submitting an abstract (for a planetary science topic, instrument concept or mission concept).

We are coordinating efforts for a strong response from the planetary science community. Please check out the wiki ( and add information about your abstract, or contact those who have already posted to join their effort.

Mike Wong ([email protected])
Amanda Hendrix ([email protected])


[Please visit the DPS web site at : jobs
for more information and also consider posting a job by filling out the jobs submission form at:

You can send any comments, questions, or suggestions to the DPS Jobs Czar at: [email protected]]


The Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek (API) at the University of Amsterdam invites applications for up to 10 PhD positions funded by the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA). The positions are open to candidates from all countries.

PhD students in Amsterdam execute a vigorous research program lasting four years, under the supervision of one or more faculty members. Positions will be available in all fields of research where the Institute is active, including Neutron Stars and Black Holes, Cosmic Explosions, Protoplanetary Disks and Planet Formation, Massive Stars and their Formation.

More information about our research can be found at

University of Amsterdam PhD students are appointed as civil servants and earn competitive salaries. PhD positions are funded for four years. Instructions for applicants are available at Applicants will have to provide a curriculum vitae, a list of all university courses taken and grades obtained, and a statement of research interests and experience. They should also arrange for at least two letters of reference to be sent directly.

The successful candidates must have a MSc degree (or equivalent) by the starting date. The starting dates are negotiable. Applications need to be submitted before December 20, 2012. By mid January we will invite promising candidates for a presentation and interviews to be held on February 13 and 14.


We would like to draw your attention also to the GRAPPA PhD program (

GRAPPA (GRavitation and AstroParticle Physics in Amsterdam) is a new center of excellence of the University of Amsterdam,
which brings together experts from astronomy, particle physics, and theoretical physics, who work on the interface of these

The GRAPPA PhD program consists of two components. The first component concerns a GRAPPA PhD fellowship, for which candidates can define their own program. Two positions are available. The application consist of two stages:
1) application letter + research statement including brief description of proposed PhD project;
2) excellent candidates will be invited in the beginning of January to write a 3 page proposal.

The second component are pre-defined PhD projects, as listed on

For logistical reasons, we have delayed the deadline for both components of the GRAPPA PhD program to December 20.
Details on the submission process can be found on the websites:

On February 13 and 14 we will have general interview presentation days, in which local and external applicants will be invited to
give a presentation on their master’s research project (and for PhD fellowship candidates on their intended research project),
and to have interviews with one or several PhD project supervisors.


The Joint Center for Planetary Astronomy (JCPA) at the California Institute of Technology solicits applications for a newly established postdoctoral prize fellowship associated with the center. This fellowship will be awarded to an outstanding applicant pursuing research in any area related to planetary systems, either our own or others. The JCPA provides a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment for researchers at Caltech with common interests spanning both the astronomy and planetary science; see for more information. Fellows will also have full access to Caltech’s extensive resources, including the Keck and Palomar Observatories and the newly upgraded GPS computational cluster.

The Fellowship will commence in fall 2013 with an annual stipend of $65,000 and an additional research fund of $16,000 per year. The JCPA will also provide funds for relocation expenses and other benefits including health care.

Applicants for the position must have a PhD in planetary science, astronomy, astrophysics, geology, or an equivalent field by the date of their appointment. Applicants must also be within four years of receiving their PhD (i.e., PhD awarded after Jan. 1st 2009). Applicants should submit a CV with email and citizenship indicated, list of publications, a statement describing their current and proposed research (4 page single spaced, 12 pt font not including figures and references), and three letters of recommendation to [email protected] by January 15th 2013; offers will be made by Feb. 1st. Questions regarding the fellowship should be directed to Professor Mike Brown ([email protected]).

Caltech is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Women, minorities, veterans, and disabled persons are encouraged to apply.

For more information, see


The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) is seeking a recent Ph.D. scientist to analyze and interpret Cassini Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph data of the Saturn system. We are particularly interested in understanding the atmospheres of the Saturnian satellites Enceladus and Titan. This is a one-year appointment, renewable for up to 3 years. Key skills include experience with ultraviolet spectroscopy, aeronomy, atmospheric escape and/or satellite exospheres.

Requirements Include:
Ph.D. degree in a related field

For full consideration, all application materials: letter of interest, resume, proof of degree, and three names of references, should be received via the jobsatcu website below.

Applications must be submitted through the jobsatcu website:

The job posting is # 820166.
Applications received before 31 January 2013 will receive full consideration.


Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) is recruiting a Postgraduate Researcher in planetary collisional modeling, with an emphasis on early solar system bodies (e.g. planetary embryos, asteroids, comets, satellites, KBOs, ice giants). An earned PhD in Planetary Sciences, Astrophysics, Geophysics, Computer Modeling, or a related field is required.

The successful applicant will have a demonstrated capability of using computer models to tackle large-­‐scale problems in astrophysics, geophysics, granular physics or fluid dynamics, and will have some familiarity with the theory of hydrocodes, and a demonstrated ability to mine/reduce/visualize large quantities of 3D simulation data and analyze and clearly present the results. An academic track record in planet formation and evolution is desired but not required.

The position is intended to bring a talented scholar to the forefront of this exciting and expanding arena of research, working closely with Prof. Erik Asphaug and his colleagues and students. The successful applicant will lead at least one first-­‐author paper per year, so a record of research publication is required. The position includes funding for travel to one domestic and one international conference per year, and dedicated access to the world-­‐class computational facilities at ASU.

Applications are due by January 31, 2013 and reference letters by February 7, 2013 via email to [email protected]. A full description of the application process is available at The appointment will start on or after March 1, 2013, and the position will remain open until filled. Salaries are competitive, and commensurate with research experience. Students finishing their PhDs by July 2013 are encouraged to apply, as are applicants with postgraduate experience looking for a new position. The initial appointment will be for 2 years.

ASU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer that actively seeks diversity among applicants and promotes a diverse workforce.


The Woodlands, Texas
18-22 March 2013

Abstract deadline: 8 January 2013.

ESTEC, Noorwijk
2-5 April 2013

Abstract deadline: 10 January 2013.

Vienna, Austria
7- 12 Apr 2013

You are cordially invited to browse through the Planetary Sessions programme at:

And submit an abstract. Each Session shows the link Abstract Submission. Using this link you are asked to log in to the Copernicus Office Meeting Organizer.

Detailed information on how to submit an abstract can be found at:

The deadline for the receipt of Abstracts is 09 Jan 2013.

Athena Coustenis
EGU/PS President

April 15-19, 2013, Flagstaff, Arizona.

Topics include planetary defense; recent progress and plans; NEO discovery; NEO characterization; mitigation techniques and missions; impact effects that inform warning, mitigation and costs; and consequence management and education.
The conference will include an exercise where participants will simulate the decision-making process for developing deflection and civil defense responses to a hypothetical asteroid threat.
A field trip to Meteor Crater is also offered.
The abstract deadline is 21 Dec 2012. See for more information.

First Announcement: The 2013 STScI Spring Symposium
April 29 – May 2, 2013

Abstract submission deadline: March 15, 2013
On-line registration deadline: March 29, 2013

Within a matter of years, humanity will know for the first time the frequency of terrestrial planets in orbit around other stars. This knowledge will pave the way for joining research from astronomy, Earth science, and biology to understand the past, present, and future of the Earth within its larger context as one of many habitable worlds. Such work seeks to understand the formation and fate of the Earth as well as predict where and when different bodies will be suitable for life. In this four-day symposium, scientists from diverse fields will discuss the formation and long-term evolution of terrestrial bodies throughout the various phases of stellar and Galactic evolution. A particular focus will be in how the specific conditions and challenges for habitability on Earth extend to other bodies in the Solar System and beyond. The existence of these overlooked environments may provide motivation for novel astronomical observations with existing and next generation ground and space-based observatories.

For more information on the Symposium, please check the website:

Brisbane, Australia
24-28 June 2013

Abstract deadline: 29 January 2013.

10th Anniversary Meeting and First Time in the Southern Hemisphere- Join Us!


Davos, Switzerland
8-12 July 2013

Abstract deadline: 31 January 2013.

This conference is a joint assembly organized by The International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences (IAMAS) and the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS), will bring together some 1’200 scientists from both fields to present and discuss the latest research in separate or joint sessions. A large variety of topics will be covered, from ice-sheet modelling to extreme climate events, from solar UV radiation to avalanche formation and permafrost – be sure to contribute and benefit from the possibility to extend your network and meet excellent scientists from a wide range of fields.

DACA-13 will be held from July 8 – 12 in the mountain resort of Davos, where the exciting outdoors join culture, lifestyle and an invigorating climate in the middle of the magnificent alpine landscape.

The schedule for the week is now online. We hope to se you there!

Athena Coustenis
IAMAS President