Issue 18-51, December 16, 2018
- NEW HORIZONS ULTIMA THULE PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROJECT: BEAM YOUR GREETING TO ULTIMA THULE ON FLYBY DAY
- VENUS EXPLORATION DECADAL SURVEY WHITE PAPERS
- THE FIRST LADY ASTRONAUT TRAINEES: TIME FOR A CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
- ABSCICON 2019: EXPLORING THE PLANETARY SYSTEM OF ALPHA CENTAURI
- JOBS, POSITIONS, OPPORTUNITIES
NEW HORIZONS ULTIMA THULE PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROJECT:
BEAM YOUR GREETING TO ULTIMA THULE ON FLYBY DAY
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is poised to conduct the farthest planetary
flyby ever – an encounter with the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, nicknamed
“Ultima Thule” – on January 1, 2019. The project is involving the public by
letting them send their names and messages to New Horizons as it speeds past
Ultima four billion miles away. The messages will reach the spacecraft on flyby day.
Submissions are being accepted at pluto.jhuapl.edu/Send-Greetings/?fbclid=IwAR03sJ0ZAxL-OrAgmseWn9ZXMKW_22bkr3dU_EdUKZcR0VwP0J7wZ4EA8LY
through December 21, 2018.
We encourage colleagues in the planetary science community to send messages
themselves and to share this public engagement opportunity with their classes,
colleagues, families, and social media circles.
VENUS EXPLORATION DECADAL SURVEY WHITE PAPERS
The Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG) will be conducting a
multi-step campaign through March 2019 to develop a coherent set of
Venus Exploration Decadal Survey White Papers.
1) Link to Pre-Decadal White Paper VEXAG encourages all Venus
community members to consider short, to the point Decadal Survey
White Papers. A spreadsheet for these contributions is:
This link and links to the white papers themselves will be on the VEXAG website.
2) Key Document Revisions: The VEXAG Goals, Objectives, and
Investigations (GOI), Venus Roadmap, and Venus Technology Plan
documents are being revised in preparation for the next Decadal Survey.
2a) Access to the Key VEXAG Documents (12/21/18): The current working
drafts of each document will be posted on the VEXAG site for community review
2b) Venus Community Telecon (Monday, 2/4/19): A public open telecon to discuss
these documents will be held from 4-6pm EDT. This telecon will cover current versions
of the documents.
2c) Predecadal Review Session at LPSC (Sunday, 3/17/19): VEXAG will host a special
review session immediately before LPSC from 1-4 pm CDT to solicit additional feedback
on these key documents. Additional information (e.g., call in numbers, schedules) will be
posted to the VEXAG website.
THE FIRST LADY ASTRONAUT TRAINEES: TIME FOR A CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
The Congressional Gold Medal, our nation’s highest civilian honor, has
been given over 200 times. Less than 10% of the medals have been received
by women and less than that have been awarded for outstanding contributions
in air and space exploration. The good news is that legislation to award
Gold Medals to the “Hidden Figures” is moving forward and the better
news is that momentum is building to also support a nomination for the
First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs), also known as the “Mercury 13”.
Read more at
Add your name to the petition directly at
ABSCICON 2019: EXPLORING THE PLANETARY SYSTEM OF ALPHA CENTAURI
We invite you to submit an abstract to the 2019 Astrobiology Science
Conference, which will be held on 24-28 June 2019 in Bellevue, Washington
to the session entitled “Exploring the planetary system of Alpha Centauri:
current knowledge, opportunities, and techniques”. The Alpha Centauri
system (AB and Proxima) presents a unique opportunity to detect and
characterize a habitable planet in the next decade. This is because Alpha
Centauri is not merely the closest star system to the Sun, but an unusually
favorable outlier. It is 2.4 times closer than the next nearest non-M-dwarf
star, and the habitable zones around A and B stars are ~3x larger in angle
than around any other Sun-like star. An Earth twin around any of the three
stars in the system would be 25th magnitude, rather than the ~30th magnitude
typically assumed for survey missions. In addition, Proxima Centauri hosts a
potentially habitable planet, an attractive target for habitability characterization.
This session aims to survey the current knowledge about the system as well as
the opportunities, challenges, instruments, and instrument concepts to detect
and characterize the planetary systems of Alpha Centauri, and determine the
potential habitability of exoplanets there. This includes studies of binary planet
formation, dynamical stability of planetary orbits in the system, limits from
current non-detections, as well as expected planet occurrence rates. Techniques
and instruments include indirect planet detection with astrometric and RV
measurements; direct imaging in optical bands as well as thermal infrared,
with current ground-based telescopes, upcoming ELTs, as well as space telescope
missions. This session will be an opportunity to bring together the knowledge
gathered on the system, and provide focus to the interdisciplinary research needed
to detect, characterize, and search for life on planets around Alpha Centauri.
Conveners: R. Belikov (NASA Ames), F. Marchis (SETI Institute), O. Guyon
(U. of Arizona)
The deadline for all submissions is Wednesday, 23 January 2019 23:59 EST.
JOBS, POSITIONS, OPPORTUNITIES
A) POST-DOC POSITION ON EXOPLANETS AT MEUDON OBSERVATORY
The Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique
(LESIA, France) invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in
exoplanet atmospheric and spectroscopic studies. The candidates will join
the team funded by the ANR “e-PYTHEAS” (http://e-pytheas.cnrs.fr/) led
by Dr. Athena Coustenis at LESIA. The initial appointment will be for 18
months, with a possible 6-month extension.
The successful candidate will work closely with Dr. Benjamin Charnay and
Dr. Bruno Bézard and also interact with members of the e-PYTHEAS team,
including A. Coustenis, P. Drossart, T. Encrenaz (LESIA), P. Lavvas (GSMA,
France) and G. Tinetti (UCL, UK), as well as with spectroscopists in the
team providing important data for these studies. He/she will also be involved
in the preparation of the newly selected ESA ARIEL mission
The e-PYTHEAS team obtained new ab initio molecular line lists in the
1-17 μm wavelength region for hydrocarbons and their isotopologues such
as 12CH4, 13CH4, CH3D, C2H2, C2H4 and C2H6 up to 2500 K
(http://theorets.univ-reims.fr/molecules). The main goal of the postdoc
project is to analyze the effects of these new line lists on transit and
emission spectra of warm/hot exoplanets and to estimate the detectability
of these molecules by current (HST, VLT, …) and future telescopes
(JWST, ARIEL, ELT). Transit and emission spectra will be produced
at low and high spectral resolution using a 1-D radiative-convective
model developed at LESIA (Exo-REM). The candidate will incorporate
the new molecular opacities in the atmospheric model and adapt Exo-REM
to irradiated planets and transit spectroscopy. He/she will afterwards apply
it to brown dwarfs and young giant exoplanets observed by direct imaging
(e.g. VLT/SPHERE) and to warm/hot transiting exoplanets observed by
e.g. Spitzer or HST.
The successful candidate will be hosted by LESIA in Meudon, France.
The net salary will be around 2400€/month + reimbursement of transport
fees. Benefits include complete health insurance coverage and social security,
as required by French law. The position is for 18 months.
A PhD in physics, astronomy or a related discipline is required at the time
when the position starts. Expertise in radiative transfer and molecular
spectroscopy modelling is required.
Applications must be received electronically at:
by February 13th, 2019 for full consideration.
The successful applicant is expected to start between April and October 2019.
B) TENURE-TRACK FACULTY POSITION
DEPARTMENT OF ASTRONOMY
NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY
The Department of Astronomy at New Mexico State University invites
applications for a tenure-track faculty member at the level of Assistant
Professor beginning in August 2019. We are especially interested in
candidates with a demonstrated research record and continuing research
programs related to the targeted area of hire, which is planetary system
science (solar system and/or extrasolar), including planetary atmospheres,
interiors, surfaces, formation, and environments, and including research
programs that are observational or theoretical in nature. The NMSU
Astronomy Department is committed to creating an environment that
affirms and supports diversity across a variety of axes, including ethnicity,
race, class, ability, gender identity and expression. We particularly welcome
applicants who can contribute to such an environment through their
scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and professional service. Please see
the job ad (https://jobregister.aas.org/ad/8e66ce6b) for more details and
direct all inquiries to [email protected].
The application deadline is January 7, 2019.
Send submissions to:
Anne Verbiscer, DPS Secretary ([email protected])
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