Issue 20-19, May 2, 2020
- IN MEMORIAM: JEFFREY F. BELL (1955-2020)
- WRITING WHITE PAPERS FOR THE DECADAL SURVEY ON PLANETARY SCIENCE AND ASTROBIOLOGY: WEBINAR FOR EARLY CAREER PROFESSIONALS
- CALL FOR PAPERS: EXOPLANETS: THE NEXUS OF ASTRONOMY AND GEOSCIENCE
- JUPITER DATA RELEASE – MAY 7, 2020
- UPDATE ON THE JWST CYCLE 1 PROPOSAL TIMELINE
- CALL FOR NOMINATIONS FOR WFIRST SCIENCE INTEREST GROUP (WSIG)
- SPACEX STARLINK UPDATE
- NASA PLANETARY DATA SYSTEM (PDS) ANNUAL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY 2020 EXTENDED DUE TO PANDEMIC
- JOBS, POSITIONS, OPPORTUNITIES
IN MEMORIAM: JEFFREY F. BELL (1955-2020)
Jeffrey F. Bell (1955-2020) passed away on March 11, 2020 after a long battle
with pancreatic cancer. Jeff received his BS from the University of Michigan and
his MS and PhD from the University of Hawaii. His PhD thesis was titled “A Search
for Ultraprimitive Material in the Solar System”. From 1984-2000, Jeff was a faculty
member at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics & Planetology at the University of Hawaii.
Jeff was primarily known for his research on the Moon and asteroids. With B. Ray Hawke,
Jeff studied lunar dark-halo impact craters and the Reiner Gamma swirl to look for
signs of impactor residue from carbonaceous asteroids or comets. Jeff was the guiding
force behind the 52-color Survey, which at the time was the largest set of near-infrared
asteroid reflectance spectra. The 52-color survey data was used in a large number of
papers to understand the mineralogy of main-belt asteroids. Jeff introduced the K-type
asteroid taxonomic class for bodies intermediate in spectral properties between S- and
C-types, and noted their spectral similarity to CV/CO chondrites. His chapter “Asteroids:
The Big Picture” (written with Don Davis, Bill Hartmann, and Mike Gaffey) was one of
the closing chapters in Asteroids II and made a number of predictions (e.g., ordinary chondrite
bodies are more abundant at smaller sizes) that were later found to be true. Jeff also did
research on the composition and origin of the dark material on Saturn’s moon Iapetus.
Jeff was known for having a very sarcastic sense of humor and for giving very informative
and hilarious talks at conferences, often expressing his rather contrarian viewpoints. Jeff
had an encyclopedic knowledge of military history and conspiracy theories. For several
years in the early-mid 2000s, Jeff wrote opinion pieces for Spacedaily.com.
Asteroid (3526) Jeffbell is named in his honor.
WRITING WHITE PAPERS FOR THE DECADAL SURVEY ON PLANETARY SCIENCE AND ASTROBIOLOGY: WEBINAR FOR EARLY CAREER PROFESSIONALS
The National Academies’ Decadal Survey on Planetary Science and Astrobiology
will assess key scientific questions in planetary science and astrobiology, identify
priority medium- and large-class missions and other initiatives, and present a
comprehensive research strategy for the 2023-2032 timeframe. Community participation
is critical for the success of the survey, and we invite early career professionals to
on May 7, 2020 from 1:30-3:00pm ET (10:30am-12:00pm PT).
The webinar will feature a keynote presentation from Dr. Phil Christensen of Arizona
State University, a panel session with invited speakers, and a Q&A session with the
audience. Speakers will discuss their experiences with writing and submitting white
papers for past decadal surveys, and how white papers are reviewed during panel
While this event is designed for early career professionals, everyone who wants to learn
more about the white paper submission process is welcome to attend. If you have
further questions about the event, please contact Mia Brown at [email protected].
CALL FOR PAPERS: EXOPLANETS: THE NEXUS OF ASTRONOMY AND GEOSCIENCE
This is a call for papers to a special section of JGR-Planets entitled,
“Exoplanets: The Nexus of Astronomy and Geoscience.”
AGU Guest Editors: Cayman Unterborn (Arizona State University), Laura
Schaefer (Stanford University), Eliza Kempton (University of Maryland),
Seth Jacobson (Michigan State University)
In recent years, our knowledge about exoplanets has expanded
tremendously. From super-Earths to water worlds, Hot Jupiters to
mini-Neptunes, exoplanets represent a diversity of worlds well beyond
that of our Solar System. The field of exoplanets is moving from an
era of discovering exoplanets to understanding their populations and
characterizing individual exoplanets in detail. To do this, however,
requires a monumental interdisciplinary effort, bringing together
astronomers, geoscientists, and planetary scientists including
observers, theorists, and experimentalists. In this special section of
JGR Planets, we wish to bring together authors from across each of
these disciplines to present results of interest to the wider exoplanet
field and cross these traditional disciplinary boundaries.
As part of the special section, all papers will be published with Gold
open-access at no extra charge.
Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis until September 30,
2020. Manuscripts are to be submitted through the AGU website:
JUPITER DATA RELEASE – MAY 7, 2020
A set of Jupiter imaging observations over the 2016-2019 period is being
released to the community in processed map form. The data are primarily
synchronous with the 53-day period of close Jupiter approaches by the NASA Juno
spacecraft. Images were obtained with the WFC3 instrument on the Hubble Space
Telescope (225-889 nm) and with the NIRI instrument at the Gemini North
Observatory (4.7 µm).
The observations are described in an open-access paper by Wong et al. in The
Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series: https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4365/ab775f
The high-level science products are available at the Mikulski Archive for Space
Telescopes (MAST): https://doi.org/10.17909/T94T1H
UPDATE ON THE JWST CYCLE 1 PROPOSAL TIMELINE
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to cause substantial disruption in the
worldwide community. It is clear that there will continue to be major impacts on
daily life through the end of May.
Under those circumstances, STScI, NASA, ESA and CSA have decided to delay
further the schedule for JWST Cycle 1 GO/AR proposals. We are not announcing a
revised deadline at this time. We are continuing to monitor the situation, and will
provide an update on the schedule on June 1st 2020. The JWST Call remains open
and all proposal preparation tools and documentation continue to be available.
We will provide the community with at least eight (8) weeks notice of the revised
schedule. The proposal deadline will be determined at a later date.
Given the delay in the #JWST Cycle 1 proposal deadline, GTO and ERS teams have
now submitted their final revisions of their programs. As a result, GOs should make
their final duplication checks after May 4, 2020. https://tinyurl.com/tqs6omn
These times offer unprecedented stress and challenges for our community members
and their families. Our thoughts go out to all those affected by the current situation.
As always, please contact the jwst helpdesk if you have any questions.
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS FOR WFIRST SCIENCE INTEREST GROUP (WSIG)
The Astrophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate calls for nominations,
including self-nominations, to serve on the WFIRST Science Interest Group (WSIG) for
the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (http://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/). This group will
provide broad-based community input to NASA on the WFIRST project. Its primary purpose
is to assist NASA in ensuring that the interests of the scientific community are served by
the WFIRST project in planning for and executing WFIRST development and operations.
Appointments will be for a period of up to three years for each selected candidate, although
the terms at initiation will be staggered to provide an annual opportunity for cycling new
members through the group. A reasonable effort will be made to achieve a diverse group
incorporating a variety of perspectives, including science focus, demographic, institutional,
and career stage present in the broader astronomical community. WSIG members are expected
to represent the community’s diverse views, and therefore expected to solicit actively those
views from their colleagues.
WFIRST was the highest ranked large space mission in the 2010 decadal survey of astronomy
and astrophysics, and it will be NASA’s next great observatory following the James Webb Space
Telescope. The mission comprises a 2.4m space telescope with a single science instrument, a
camera with a 0.281 deg2 field of view for near-IR imaging and slitless spectroscopy. It additionally
features a technology demonstration instrument: a coronagraph designed for > 108starlight suppression,
which will enable unprecedented observations of nearby giant exoplanets and circumstellar disks.
For wide field near-IR surveys, WFIRST is hundreds of times more efficient than the Hubble Space
Telescope. The observing program includes large area and time domain legacy surveys that will provide
extraordinarily rich datasets for a wide range of research investigations, in addition to meeting WFIRST’s
cosmology and exoplanet goals. WFIRST has completed its formulation phase and entered implementation
in February 2020, and remains on schedule for launch in late 2025 or 2026.
The WSIG will provide input to the WFIRST project and NASA HQ on the structure of future science
team and investigation calls; user support functions and resources across the WFIRST project; considerations
for defining and conducting the science program, including time allocation; and other science needs as
requested by the project or program. The WSIG shall report to the WFIRST Program Scientist and the
WFIRST Project Scientist. The group is expected to meet in person two times per year, with biweekly
virtual meetings as needed. Agendas of meetings shall be posted well in advance of meetings to encourage
input from the community at any time.
Nominations, including self-nominations, for the WSIG should be submitted via email to [email protected].
Nominations must include both a cover letter and a one-page curriculum vitae together in a single PDF file.
The cover letter should provide a description of the nominee’s relevant WFIRST-related interests and
qualifications for service on the WSIG. The CV should summarize the nominee’s relevant background
and area(s) of expertise. Familiarity with space missions or astronomical instrumentation is not a prerequisite
for the WSIG, as the group’s successful functioning depends on a diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints.
The deadline for receipt of nominations is May 29, 2020, with announcement of appointments anticipated
by June 2020. For further information, please contact Dominic Benford ([email protected]),
Jeff Kruk ([email protected]) and/or Julie McEnery ([email protected]).
Nominations will only be accepted for scientists who reside at a U.S. institution for the period of the service,
and are not currently members of the WFIRST project science staff or on the WFIRST Formulation Science
Working Group. There is no restriction on citizenship. We look forward to working with all of our stakeholders
to continue a robust and compelling WFIRST mission.
SPACEX STARLINK UPDATE
The AAS Committee on Light Pollution has been actively engaging companies and
other stakeholders regarding the launching of satellite constellations and encouraging
efforts to mitigate their adverse effects on observational astronomy. Read this AAS
news post for more details regarding a discussion of recent improvements for the
SpaceX Starlink led by the National Academies:
Presentations from the April 27 meeting held by the Astro2020 Decadal Survey at the
NASEM can be found here:
NASA PLANETARY DATA SYSTEM (PDS) ANNUAL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
SURVEY 2020 EXTENDED DUE TO PANDEMIC
NASA’s PDS customer satisfaction survey of the Planetary Data System (PDS)
remains open to ensure the widest response possible. This survey will be used to set
priorities for the PDS and identify areas for improvement. In particular, the survey
includes specific questions to determine user experience with search tools and web
services that will be invaluable to the PDS discipline nodes for improving their services.
The survey is available at the following link:
This survey link may also be posted to any website.
Your support in helping to improve the PDS is greatly appreciated. Please contact
the PDS at [email protected] with questions on the survey.
JOBS, POSITIONS, OPPORTUNITIES
A) JOB OPPORTUNITY: INSTRUMENT SCIENTIST, MASS SPECTROMETRY, AT NASA GSFC
The Planetary Environments Lab (PEL) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
in Greenbelt, MD is seeking an instrument scientist, with an emphasis on mass
spectrometry, for a civil servant position opening. The candidate must have expertise
in a variety of mass spectrometry techniques, with experience in the development,
testing, and implementation of current and next generation mass spectrometer techniques.
The PEL has developed mass spectrometers and sampling systems for a variety of
planetary missions, including: Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) on the Curiosity rover,
MOMA on the ExoMars rover, MAVEN NGIMS, Cassini-Huygens GCMS, Cassini INMS,
LADEE NMS, and is presently developing mass spectrometers for lunar missions and the
mass spectrometer on the Dragonfly mission to Titan.
For more information on the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Planetary Environment
Lab, please visit: https://science.gsfc.nasa.gov/solarsystem/atmosenvironments/.
NASA recognizes that candidates with non-traditional career paths, or individuals
who are at earlier stages of their careers may have demonstrated experience in different
ways. NASA encourages applications from such individuals.
Please note that this is a fair and open competition that all U.S. Citizens and Status
candidates can apply to.
A full vacancy announcement, which contains further information including qualification
requirements and application instructions, will be posted to https://www.usajobs.gov/ on
May 18, and remain open for Five (5) days. The short period that the announcement is
open is due to the type of hiring authority, which streamlines the hiring process and
assists with rapidly filling competitive positions. It is not a reflection of the openness
of the position. Advance notice of the vacancy is being provided to allow interested
scientists to prepare. In order to apply for this position, you will only need to submit
your resume and answer the screening questions and supplemental information through
Given the short period the announcement will be open, it is a good idea to log into
USAJOBS before and update your username, password, resume, etc., to facilitate the
timely submission of an application.
Candidates interested in being notified when this job opportunity is posted on USAJOBS
and opened for five days are encouraged to sign up for a notification using the features
of the USAJOBS website.
Candidates interested in this opportunity are encouraged to contact NASA well in
advance so they can make a well informed decision on submitting an application
during the very short (5 day) window when the job opportunity will be open for applications.
Questions about this anticipated opening may be directed to the Chief
of the Planetary Environments Lab: Charles Malespin, [email protected].
Send submissions to:
Anne Verbiscer, DPS Secretary ([email protected])
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