Issue 17-15, March 25, 2017
- IN MEMORIAM: MICHEL COMBES (1939-2017)
- HST OBSERVATIONS TO DETECT PLUMES/OUTGASSING FROM EUROPA
- 2017 ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY’S DIVISION OF DYNAMICAL ASTRONOMY
- SSERVI AWARD NOMINATIONS DUE 31 MARCH
- NOAO 2017B OBSERVING PROPOSALS DUE 31 MARCH 2017
- ALMA CYCLE 5 CALL FOR PROPOSALS AND PROPOSAL WRITING WORKSHOPS
- STUDENT OPPORTUNITY: SUDBURY FIELD CAMP
- UPCOMING WORKSHOPS AND MEETINGS
IN MEMORIAM: MICHEL COMBES (1939-2017)
A Tribute to Michel Combes
Michel Combes passed away on March 9, following a week of hospitalization.
As a former Director of the Paris Observatory DESPA Laboratory (which later
became LESIA) and a former President of Paris Observatory, Michel has played
a major role in the life of the laboratory, the Observatory, and, beyond, in the
development of planetology and of astronomical instrumentation in France and
As a former student of the Institut d’Optique in Paris, Michel entered the Observatory
in the early 1960s. In 1969, Michel was a major actor in the establishment of a
planetology group at the Observatory, first hosted within the Department of Solar
Physics and later within the Space Research Department (DESPA).
Mainly interested in optics, Michel was convinced that new projects in astronomy
require instrumental innovation. In 1973, he led a campaign in South Africa to
observe the occultation of the star Beta Scorpio by Jupiter. This successful
experiment made possible the retrieval of the thermal structure in the stratosphere
of Jupiter. In parallel, Michel worked on the development of a Fourier Transform
spectrometer operating in the thermal infrared, devoted to the spectral analysis of
Jupiter. This instrument was flown on the Kuiper Airborne Observatory in 1973,
and has been mounted several times on large ground-based telescopes.
In the 1980s, with Tobias Owen in the US and Vassili Moroz in Moscow, and in
partnership with other laboratories, Michel developed the concept of a new
instrument for analyzing the near-infrared emission of comets. This successful
experiment, launched on the Soviet probes Vega 1 and Vega 2, has led to the first
measurement of the temperature of a cometary nucleus, and the detection of
several parent molecules outgassed from the nucleus.
In the mid-1980s, Michel became the Director of DESPA, and drove the
laboratory toward participation in the ISOCAM camera of the Infrared Space
Observatory (ISO) of ESA. In parallel, the planetology group got involved in
space projects of planetary infrared sounding. This was the beginning of a series
of infrared imaging spectrometers, conceived and developed at DESPA in
partnership with Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay and several international
laboratories. The first ones were devoted to the exploration of Mars, with
ISM/PHOBOS and OMEGA/Mars-96 in partnership with Russia. These instruments
inspired the imaging spectrometers of Cassini/Huygens, Rosetta and Venus Express.
In 1991, Michel became the President of Paris Observatory. This duty allowed
him to express all his human and international relationship qualities, based on
his excellent knowledge of men and institutions. As a President, Michel initiated
a re-organization of the scientific departments of the Observatory. This was the
first step of a global restructuration of the scientific departments, which was
completed later in the early 2000. In the meantime, Michel continued to follow
the development of infrared space projects at DESPA, in particular in the domain
of stellar photometry and planetology. After the failure of the Mars-96 spacecraft
just after launch, both experiments were rebuilt and used in other contexts, the
French CoRoT mission and, under IAS’ PIship, the OMEGA instrument aboard
Mars Express. Later, in collaboration with other international partners, the
VIRTIS-H instrument was flown on two other European missions, Rosetta and
Venus Express. He was also strongly involved in the NASA-ESA Cassini/Huygens
mission through participation as co-investigator in DISR/Huygens and team
member on VIMS/Cassini until recently.
In 1999, after two mandates, Michel came back to DESPA, which later transformed
into LESIA, and became involved in teaching activities regarding optics, and in the
development of instrumental concepts. He also became more and more involved in
outreach activities within the Service of Communication of the Observatory, as well
as within the team working on History of Sciences.
Thanks to his strong personality, his acute sense of politics, his engagement toward
society, his sense of organization and dialog, Michel Combes has played a major
role in the field of planetology but also at the level of the Observatory and beyond.
Michel was a leader with a strong sense of responsibility, respectful of his
international collaborators. He had a very strong capability for bringing teams
together – scientists, engineers, technicians, administrative employees – and to make
them work together towards a common objective. He will be deeply missed by his
friends and colleagues.
Therese Encrenaz and Pierre Drossart
HST OBSERVATIONS TO DETECT PLUMES/OUTGASSING FROM EUROPA
The STScI Director has commissioned a committee to provide advice on
optimizing future strategies for using Hubble to investigate potential outgassing
from Europa. The committee is currently developing recommendations that will
include suggestions for pilot observations in the near future. The full report will
not be available until after the Cycle 25 proposal deadline (April 7, 2017).
Consequently, interested parties should not submit proposals at this time unless
the observations must be executed before October 27 2017. Time will be set aside
for observations at later dates, and proposals related to the Europan plumes will
be solicited as part of the first Cycle 25 Call for Mid-Cycle proposals, deadline
September 30 2017.
2017 ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY’S
DIVISION OF DYNAMICAL ASTRONOMY
The AAS Division of Dynamical Astronomy is pleased to announce that its annual
meeting will take place at Queen Mary University of London on June 11-15, 2017.
The annual AAS-DDA meeting brings together researchers in astronomy,
astrophysics, planetary science, and astrodynamics for discussions and talks on
all aspects of dynamics in the space sciences. The DDA meeting features invited
talks on a range of topics, contributed talks (with no parallel sessions), and posters
that can be displayed throughout the entire conference.
The 2017 meeting also features three special sessions:
* Impact of Gaia Astrometry on Dynamical Astronomy
(Chair: Norbert Zacharias, US Naval Observatory)
* Post-Main Sequence Planetary System Science
(Chair: Dimitri Veras, University of Warwick)
* Cassini Ring-Grazing Orbits and Grand Finale (Chair: Matthew Tiscareno SETI)
In addition, Prof. Rosemary F. G. Wyse will be honoured with the AAS-DDA
Brouwer Award. The 2017 DDA meeting is being co-sponsored by the Royal
Abstract Deadline April 10, 2017
For additional information see the meeting website
SSERVI AWARD NOMINATIONS
NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) is
soliciting nominations for the following SSERVI Awards: Shoemaker Award
(lifetime career achievement award in lunar and planetary sciences), the
Wargo Award (scientist or engineer who has focused on integrating science
and exploration throughout their career) and the Niebur Award (early career
award for significant contributions to exploration science). Nominees from
previous years will automatically be carried forward to the upcoming year.
Further descriptions of each award and the nomination form may be found at:
Thank you in advance for your nominations and recognition of those who have
contributed so substantially to our field! We do accept nominations year-round,
but to be considered for the 2017 awards, please provide your nominations by
March 31, 2017.
NOAO 2017B OBSERVING PROPOSALS DUE 31 MARCH 2017
Proposal forms and information for observing time requests for the 2017B
semester (August 2017 - January 2018) are available on the NOAO web page:
Time requests for 2017B may be made for Gemini North and South, Cerro
Tololo Inter-American Observatory (including SOAR and SMARTS), and
Kitt Peak National Observatory (including WIYN). This semester will see
the commencement of public access to the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT)
and a significant increase in the public time available with the CHARA
interferometer. Public access also continues for the Subaru and AAT telescopes
through time-exchange agreements.
The Call for Proposals is available in HTML at
and as a self-contained, downloadable PDF document at
Observing proposals for all facilities available through NOAO in 2017B are
due by Friday evening, 31 March 2017, 11:59pm MDT.
ALMA CYCLE 5 CALL FOR PROPOSALS AND PROPOSAL WRITING WORKSHOPS
The ALMA Director, on behalf of the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) and the
partner organizations in East Asia, Europe, and North America, is pleased to
announce the ALMA Cycle 5 Call for Proposals (CfP) for scientific observations
to be scheduled from October 2017 to September 2018. It is anticipated that 4000
hours of the 12-m Array time and 3000 hours of the Atacama Compact Array
(ACA) time, also known as the Morita Array, will be available for successful
proposals from Principal Investigators (PIs) in Cycle 5.
The Cycle 5 proposal submission deadline is
15:00 UT on Thursday, 20 April 2017
To prepare the North American community to fully participate in the ALMA
Call for Proposals, the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) is
organizing community outreach events in the months leading up to the Cycle 5
For more information go to https://science.nrao.edu/facilities/alma/community1
STUDENT OPPORTUNITY: SUDBURY FIELD CAMP
2017 Fall Session
September 23, 2017 – September 30, 2017
The Short Course and Field School at the Sudbury Impact Structure is a week
long classroom and field training program based in Sudbury, Ontario. The goal
of the program will be to introduce students to impact cratering processes and
observe, in the field, the attributes of an immense basin-size impact structure.
Sudbury is known for spectacular shatter cones, tremendously thick melt-bearing
impact breccias (the Onaping Fm.), and a differentiated impact melt sheet (the
Sudbury Igneous Complex). Skills developed during the program should better
prepare students for their own thesis studies in impact cratered terrains, whether
they be on Earth, the Moon, Mars, or some other solar system planetary surface.
This field camp is being organized under the auspices of the
NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, which is designed,
in part, to train a new generation of explorers for the Moon and beyond. The
activity is being led by an SSERVI international partner, the
Canadian Lunar Research Network and coordinated
with the LPI-JSC Center for Lunar Science and Exploration.
Students are responsible for transportation to Sudbury, ON. They will also be
responsible for lodging and other costs while in Sudbury. Course organizers will
reserve lodging space, local transportation, and other logistical details. Class size
is limited, so this will be a competitive process. Applicants who are accepted for
the program will be asked to formally register and pay those fees in advance of
the course. Students should plan to arrive on Saturday, September 23, 2017 and
depart on Saturday, September 30, 2017. Additional logistical details will be
provided to the selected participants.
UPCOMING WORKSHOPS AND MEETINGS
A) JWST PROPOSAL PLANNING WORKSHOP
May 15-18, 2017
In support of the first JWST call for proposals, Space Telescope Science
Institute (STScI) is pleased to announce a workshop to educate the general
astronomical community about the JWST Proposal Planning process. This
workshop will take place at STScI in Baltimore, MD on May 15-18, 2017.
The main goal of this workshop is to provide hands-on teaching for the JWST
Exposure Time Calculator (ETC), the JWST Target Visibility Tools, and the
JWST Astronomer’s Proposal Tool (APT).
The Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) calculates the detailed performance of
the observatory by modeling astronomical scenes consisting of single or multiple
point and extended sources. It offers full support for all of the JWST observing
modes. There are two Target Visibility Tools to help you assess target visibilities
before you enter information in APT: the General Target Visibility Tool (GTVT)
predicts visibility windows and position angles for all instruments, and the
Coronagraphic Visibility Tool (CVT) provides target visibility information for the
NIRCam and MIRI coronagraphic modes. The Astronomer's Proposal Tool (APT)
is used to write, validate and submit proposals.
The JWST Guaranteed Time Observers (GTOs) will submit Cycle 1 observing
descriptions on April 1, 2017. We plan to illustrate the proposal planning process
and the tools mentioned above using a subset of the NIRCam, NIRSpec, NIRISS,
MIRI and Telescope Scientist GTO programs. During the workshop, GTOs will
describe the science and technical motivation for half a dozen programs. STScI
staff will step participants through ETC calculations and Target Visibility and
APT planning for each program. The science programs to be discussed illustrate
planning for (1) Multi Object Spectroscopy of bright and faint sources, (2) NIRCam
and MIRI Coordinated Parallel Imaging, (3) NIRISS Wide Field Slitless Spectroscopy,
(4) NIRSpec and MIRI Integral Field Spectroscopy of compact, extended sources,
and (5) NIRcam and MIRI Coronagraphy of bright targets. In addition, STScI staff
will be available to provide help with ERS and GO cycle 1 proposal planning
during unstructured open periods.
More information on JWST capabilities and observing opportunities can be
found in the user documentation (JDox) pages.
For questions regarding the workshop you can contact us at:
B) ASTROBIOLOGY 2017
Nov. 26-Dec 1, 2017
We announce that registration is open for Astrobiology 2017. This
conference will take place in beautiful Chilean Patagonia at Coyhaique
(November 26th-December 1st, 2017).
The astrobiology community in the IAU has the tradition to hold a series
of scientific meetings every three years. For a truly multidisciplinary
discussion, we welcome researchers at the frontier of science from the
fields of astronomy, planetary and space science, chemistry, biology,
geology, philosophy, sociology and ethical issues, among others.
* Early Registration deadline: May 19th
* Oral contribution submission deadline: July 28th
* Regular registration deadline: Oct 13th
* Poster contribution deadline: Oct 13th
* Late registration deadline: Nov 17th
* Conference starts: Nov 26th
* Star and planet formation
* Extrasolar planets / Habitable zones and habitable planets
* Planets in the solar system / Comets and meteorites
* Prebiotic molecules in the ISM and protoplanetary disks
* Early Earth environments and the emergence of life
* Life in extreme conditions and early life
* Search for life in the Universe
* Societal and ethical issues linked to astrobiology
* Education in Astrobiology
Over 20 superb invited speakers have already confirmed. The updated
list can be found at: http://astrobiology2017.org/speakers/
We are also preparing a two day training school with lectures on
basics of Astrobiology open to all participants. This school will
precede the conference and take place on Santiago during Friday 24th and
Saturday 25th. There is no extra cost for participants of the conference
but space is limited. Interested participants of the TS should reserve
a seat during registration.
We expect to be able to provide a reduced number of travel funds for
students. Instructions to apply for it will be provided on the webpage
during coming March.
With best regards,
Patricio Rojo (LOC's chair)
Send submissions to:
Anne Verbiscer, DPS Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To change your address email email@example.com