Issue 20-51, December 6, 2020
- ARECIBO OBSERVATORY STATEMENT
- AAS CONGRESSIONAL VISITS DAY CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS
- DPS PROFESSIONAL CLIMATE AND CULTURE SUBCOMMITTEE (PCCS)
- RUBIN OBSERVATORY PREMIERS NEW LOGO
- IN MEMORIAM: H. J. MELOSH (1947-2020)
- IN MEMORIAM: ROGER JAY PHILLIPS (1940-2020)
- OUTER PLANETS ASSESSMENT GROUP (OPAG) TOWN HALL AT AGU DEC 10
- OPAG VIRTUAL MEETING: FEB. 9 – 11, 2021
- JOBS, POSITIONS, OPPORTUNITIES
ARECIBO OBSERVATORY STATEMENT
The Arecibo Observatory, an iconic facility, has a long and proud history of planetary science achievements (http://www.naic.edu/), including its valuable role in multiple science areas as one out of the two operational planetary radar assets. The observatory has long served as an important pathway for broadening access to STEM fields, including planetary science, for Puerto Ricans and others. We are deeply saddened at the recent damage this facility has sustained, including the collapse of the platform on December 1, 2020, and thankful that no physical injuries resulted. We join those who have called for the continued support of STEM education and public outreach activities that Arecibo has provided for decades, along with support of the non-affected facilities such as its LIDAR station. We encourage DPS members to reach out to friends and colleagues in the Arecibo community to help support them through this difficult time.
AAS CONGRESSIONAL VISITS DAY CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS
Every year the AAS brings volunteers to Washington, DC, to advocate for federal support for their science with their members of Congress for a Congressional Visits Day (CVD). AAS CVD 2021 will be held in early March 2021 (virtual format). For information on eligibility requirements and how to apply, you can check out the main CVD page. We aim to select 15 volunteers who balance the program by location, career stage, and experience. We especially encourage graduate students and early-career professionals to volunteer. We ask that people who have done training and Congressional visits for astronomy advocacy before – through programs like AAS CVD, AAAS CASE, facility/collaboration programs, etc. – not volunteer for CVD, as we intend this program to increase the number of astronomers empowered to advocate for science. Please use our CVD 2021 Sign-up Form. You’ll need to use your AAS username and password to submit the form. The deadline for application to AAS CVD 2021 is 11:59 pm ET on Monday 2021 January 18. Selected volunteers will be notified later that month.
John N. Bahcall Public Policy Fellow
DPS PROFESSIONAL CLIMATE AND CULTURE SUBCOMMITTEE (PCCS) UPDATE
DPS’ Planetary Culture and Climate Subcommittee recently convened its first meeting of the year. We welcomed our four newest members to the subcommittee, which includes two graduate student representatives: Michaela Leung of UC Riverside (graduate student) and Jodi Berdis of New Mexico State University (graduate student), James Roberts of APL and Joe Masiero of Caltech. They are joining returning members Serina Diniega (current chair), Julie Rathbun (former chair), Ingrid Daubar, Jen Piatek, Ed Rivera-Valentin and Shawn Brooks (co-chair).
We would like to draw the community’s attention to the posting of Dr. Renee Horton’s talk, “Don’t Silence Our Voice At the Table”, which was presented at the 2020 DPS meeting as the PCCS sponsored talk. The presentation can be accessed on the PCCS homepage — leadership/climate — under the Resources heading. A version with embedded video can be found at the following URL: leadership/climate/2020talk.
RUBIN OBSERVATORY PREMIERS NEW LOGO
Vera C. Rubin Observatory is pleased to announce the release of its official logo following the organization’s renaming in December 2019. Formerly known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, Rubin Observatory was renamed, by an Act of Congress, to honor American astronomer Vera C. Rubin, a pioneer in the study of dark matter and an advocate for women in science.
The logo is a visual representation of Rubin Observatory’s central purpose: to collect light from celestial objects and transform it into data for scientific discovery. It is aligned with Rubin Observatory’s mission for operations: To create a vast astronomical dataset and web-based analysis environment for unprecedented discovery of the deep and dynamic Universe. The logo was chosen by a committee of stakeholders from across the Rubin Observatory ecosystem; the committee included representation from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), NSF’s NOIRLab operated by AURA, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The logo is an important part of a more comprehensive branding initiative that will continue as Rubin Observatory prepares for the start of science operations in 2023. The initiative includes a new, interactive website, which will provide the public with opportunities to explore Rubin Observatory data, and to learn how those data contribute to science and discovery.
About Rubin Observatory
Rubin Observatory, currently under construction on Cerro Pachón in Chile, will employ the 8.4-meter Simonyi Survey Telescope and the 3200 megapixel LSST Camera to capture about 1,000 images of the sky, every night, for ten years. Each image will cover a 9.6 square degree field of view, or about 40 times the area of the full Moon. LSST survey images will contain data for about 20 billion galaxies and a similar number of stars—more celestial objects than there are humans on Earth. Rubin Observatory data will be used for scientific investigations ranging from cosmological studies of the Universe to searches for potentially dangerous Earth-impacting asteroids, additionally a public engagement program will enable anyone to explore the Universe and be part of the discovery process.
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University of Washington/ Rubin Observatory
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More information about the logo design can be found at: https://www.lsst.org
IN MEMORIAM: H. J. MELOSH (1947-2020)
One of the giants of planetary science, H. J. Melosh, died unexpectedly on 11 September 2020 at age 73. Through his students, postdocs and collaborators, he brought a high level of physical rigour to the growing field of planetary geology.
Jay Melosh was in many ways a maverick. Born Henry J. Melosh IV in New Jersey, Jay would have none of it, and was always simply ‘Jay’ to everyone. He did follow family tradition in being a ‘Princeton man’, but majored in physics (graduating in 1969), which led to a PhD under Murray Gell-Mann at Caltech only three years later. His 1974 thesis publication on the relation between current and constituent quarks1 is still cited in terms of the ‘Melosh transformation’. But his next publication, in 1975, concerned mass concentrations (mascons) and the orientation of the Moon2, for Jay’s true passion turned out to be geology, and planetary geology in particular. He was immersed in the planetary science discipline that was emerging at Caltech, and returned there after postdoctoral stints at CERN (the European Centre for Particle Physics) and the University of Chicago, rising to the rank of associate professor. After three years on the faculty at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, in 1982 Jay settled in for a long and productive middle career at the University of Arizona where he held joint appointments in the Planetary Sciences and Geosciences departments, becoming an Arizona Regents Professor in 2004.
For full obituary, please go to: H.J. Melosh
IN MEMORIAM: ROGER JAY PHILLIPS (1940-2020)
Roger Jay Phillips, American geophysicist, planetary scientist and professor emeritus at the Washington University in St. Louis, passed away on November 19, 2020. Phillips served as the Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) from 1979 to 1982.
Phillips received his Ph.D. in 1968 from the University of California, Berkeley. Following graduate school he worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), before joining the staff of the LPI in 1979. In 1982, Phillips accepted a faculty position at Southern Methodist University, and in 1992 he moved to Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Professor and as Director of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences. After retiring from Washington University, Phillips moved to Colorado, where he was affiliated with the Southwest Research Institute.
Over a career that spanned more than five decades, Phillips contributed broadly to our understanding of the geophysical structure and evolution of the Moon, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. He was the team leader for the Apollo Lunar Sounder Experiment, which flew on Apollo 17 and produced the first radar imaging of the lunar subsurface. Much later, he was team co-leader for the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) experiment on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that imaged the internal stratigraphy of martian polar layered deposits. He also played key roles on the science teams for the Magellan mission to Venus, the Mars Global Surveyor mission, the MESSENGER mission to orbit Mercury, and the GRAIL mission to the Moon.
Phillips is well known for his contributions to understanding the impact crater distribution and resurfacing history of Venus, as well as the geodynamical evolution of that planet’s mantle and crust. He demonstrated that growth of the huge Tharsis volcanic province on Mars shaped the entire planet and influenced the distribution and direction of martian valley networks. From radar sounding and laser altimetry, he showed that the lithosphere of the martian polar regions is minimally deflected by the substantial load of the polar deposits, a condition indicative of a large lithosphere thickness or a long-term transient mantle response to loading.
A fellow of the American Geophysical Union, Phillips received the 2003 G. K. Gilbert Award from the Geological Society of America. He was also honored with the Whipple Award from the American Geophysical Union in 2008. Among his many contributions to the scientific literature, Phillips served as an editor of Geophysical Research Letters and co-edited the books: Basaltic Volcanism on the Terrestrial Planets, Origin of the Moon, and Venus II.
OUTER PLANETS ASSESSMENT GROUP (OPAG) TOWN HALL AT AGU DEC 10
AGU FALL MEETING 2020
Session Number: TH066
Date and Time: Thursday, 10 December 2020: 10:30 – 11:30 PST
The purpose of the Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) Town Hall is to update the community on OPAG activities and get community input for upcoming activities.
Please note, you must be registered for AGU in order to attend the Town Hall Meeting.
OPAG VIRTUAL MEETING: FEB. 9 – 11, 2021
The next Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) meeting will be a virtual meeting to be held from February 9-11, 2021. The meeting agenda and details about how to register and attend this meeting will be posted at a later date.
The focus of this meeting will be on aspects of the Decadal Survey that are relevant to OPAG. Status reports will be requested from the Decadal Survey co-chairs and panel chairs.
JOBS, POSITIONS, OPPORTUNITIES, OPPORTUNITIES
A) JOB DESCRIPTION: PLANETARY ASTRONOMER
The SETI Institute is seeking a Planetary Astronomer to support the work of the Ring-Moon Systems Node (RMS) of NASA’s Planetary Data System (PDS). We seek a curious and creative individual who is eager to work with data from diverse instruments and missions. The curation of planetary data requires someone who is able to understand the data’s scientific importance, assess the data’s validity, converse knowledgeably with fellow scientists, and confirm that documentation and descriptive metadata are sufficient for the needs of current and future scientists.
The astronomer will collaborate closely with the Node Manager, Dr Matt Tiscareno, on all aspects of RMS Node planning and task management. They will understudy with longtime RMS Deputy Manager, Dr Mitch Gordon, and prepare to carry on his work as he approaches retirement.
This is a full-time position with full benefits. However, the astronomer will be encouraged to seek additional research funding on any topic of their choosing including, but not limited to, topics related to the Node’s extensive data holdings. The position offers substantial growth potential for applicants who are able to demonstrate mastery of the key requirements.
B) NASA POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP – APPLICATION DEADLINE MARCH 1, 2021
The NASA Postdoctoral Program offers US and international scientists the opportunity to advance their research while contributing to NASA’s scientific goals. The NPP supports fundamental science; explores the undiscovered; promotes intellectual growth; and encourages scientific connections.
Selected by a competitive peer-review process, NPP Fellows complete one- to three-year Fellowship appointments that advance NASA’s missions in earth science, heliophysics, planetary science, astrophysics, space bioscience, aeronautics and engineering, human exploration and space operations, and astrobiology.
Current NPP research opportunities in planetary science can be viewed here: NPP Planetary Sciences Research Opportunities.
Applicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in hand before beginning the fellowship, but may apply while completing the degree requirements. U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and foreign nationals eligible for J-1 status as a Research Scholar may apply.
Stipends start at $60,000 per year, with supplements for high cost-of-living areas and for certain academic specialties. Financial assistance is available for relocation and health insurance, and $10,000 per year is provided for professional travel.
Applications are accepted three times each year: March 1, July 1, and November 1.
For further information and to apply, visit: https://npp.usra.edu/
Questions: [email protected]
C) Postdoctoral Associate – Near-Earth Object Studies
D) Postdoctoral Associate in Exoplanet Science
Send submissions to:
Maria Womack, DPS Secretary ([email protected])