29TH LPSC SETS NEW RECORDS
The 29th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference came to a close March 20, 1998, after four and a half successful days of technical sessions at the Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston in the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas.
The conference, cosponsored by NASA, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and NASA Johnson Space Center, attracted 1033 participants, including 240 students, 26 members of the press, and 185 foreign participants from 20 different countries.
Abstract submissions far exceeded previous years for the conference, and the final abstract volume included a record-breaking 955 abstracts. The abstract volume was published solely in electronic CD-ROM format for the first time this year. Also for the first time this year, the Tuesday and Thursday night poster sessions, as well as the special education session, were held at nearby Space Center Houston.
Highlights of the conference included Michael H. Carr's Masursky Lecture on the role of water in the evolution of martian geology, and the implications of this history on the search for possible martian life; Matthew P. Golombek's overview of the geology of the Pathfinder site; and the Pathfinder and Discovery special sessions. The conference was dedicated to the memory of Gene Shoemaker, and Carolyn Shoemaker made a special appearance at the start of the Discovery session on Wednesday afternoon to respond to the dedication. She said she did not think Dr. Shoemaker "ever missed the LPSC" and lamented that he did not live to see the success of a manned mission to Mars.
"He wanted to see men go back into space," Shoemaker said. "It's not that he thought you couldn't learn a lot from unmanned space missions, but as a hands-on geologist, he thought it was important to send men to other worlds."
The media attention surrounding asteroid 1997 XF11 in March gave rise to an impromptu discussion during the conference, as a small panel of scientists worked to establish interim guidelines for releasing information to the public and the media on asteroids and other objects that might pass close to Earth.
The Stephen E. Dwornik Award Committee met after the conference and announced the winners for this year's student awards. Nancy Chabot of the University of Arizona captured the award for oral presentation for her paper "The effect of S on the solubility of K in metal," with honorable mentions going to C. van der Bogert of Brown University and A. Yen of the California Institute of Technology.
The Dwornik award for poster presentation went to Michelle Minitti of Brown University for her poster "Assessment of shock effects of hornblende water contents and isotopic compositions." Honorable mentions were given to N. Spaun of Brown University and L. Kirkland of the Lunar and Planetary Institute.