This year’s conference will feature the following special sessions:
Special Sessions on Results from the Mars Science Laboratory: These sessions will cover the initial scientific results from the first few months of surface operations of the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, on Mars. Talks will review the geological setting near the landing region at Gale Crater; initial chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical results from samples of soil, rock, and atmosphere; and environmental observations.
Mars Science Laboratory I: Geology and Environment, Monday Morning, March 18, 8:30 a.m., Waterway Ballroom 4
Mars Science Laboratory II: Soils and Rocks, Monday Afternoon, March 18, 2:30 p.m., Waterway Ballroom 4
Mars Science Laboratory III: The Rocknest Sand Dune, Tuesday Morning, March 19, 8:30 a.m., Waterway Ballroom 4
Special Session on GRAIL Explores the Moon’s Interior: GRAIL began mapping the Moon’s gravity field in March 2012 and is providing an unprecedented view of the Moon’s internal structure, with a block size resolution of 13 km at the end of the prime mission. By the time that GRAIL completes its extended mission in December 2012, the gravity field resolution is expected to be about 7 km, which is 5 times the resolution and approximately 10,000 times the precision of the best lunar gravity models that existed just one year ago. This session will focus on GRAIL’s contributions to lunar science, including global crustal and mantle structure; impact processes; and the volcanic, thermal, and tectonic histories of the Moon.
Special Sessions on Dawn, Vesta, and the HED Connection: Mapping of Vesta by the Dawn mission is now complete, including high-resolution imaging along with multispectral and global elemental maps. One of the big surprises from the mission is that Vesta is compositionally heterogeneous on both large and small scales. These data will provide a key link to understanding the formation, provenance, and delivery of the HED meteorites to Earth.
Special Session on Early Differentiation of Planetary Bodies Across the Solar System: The interior states of both rocky and ice-rock bodies yield important clues to their origins and thermal histories. Short-lived radioisotopes and heat of accretion may have melted, partially or entirely, many early-forming solar system bodies. Partial or complete melting can allow core formation and silicate differentiation, and also can remove volatiles. For icy bodies, what observational and theoretical perspectives constrain how differentiation proceeds; what are the prerequisites and observable symptoms; and what are the implications for composition, geophysics, and habitability? Progress in understanding these processes will depend upon communication among the fields of meteorite and asteroid/icy body observations, theory, and modeling. What bulk compositions and time frames of accretion would have allowed differentiation? What can we observe of differentiated bodies in the solar system today? Talks will cover processes occurring in the formation and differentiation of icy and silicate bodies.