Lunar and Planetary Institute


Inspiration and Exploration Since 1968

  • January 1
    David Black

    David Black is named President and CEO of USRA.

  • February
    Origin of the Earth and Moon

    Origin of the Earth and Moon is published. This book marks the first volume in the Space Science Series produced under the new collaborative agreement between LPI and the University of Arizona Press.

  • July 9-12
    Catastrophic Events and Mass Extinctions

    Catastrophic Events and Mass Extinctions: Impacts and Beyond is held at the University of Vienna. Co-sponsored by LPI, the conference is the fourth of an informal series of meetings on mass extinctions, global catastrophes, geological (and biological) implications of impact events, and related investigations to discuss studies of the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary.

  • July 18-20
    Workshop on Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration

    The Workshop on Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration is held at the LPI. The intent of the workshop is to provide an open forum for presentation, discussion, and consideration of various concepts, options, and innovations associated with a strategy for Mars exploration.

  • November 8-10
    Space Resources Utilization Roundtable II

    The Space Resources Utilization Roundtable II is held at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. The goal of the Space Resources Roundtable is to advance the prospects for the commercial development of space resources through information exchange between personnel in government, academic, and commercial organizations.

  • December 11-12
    Near-Earth Asteroid Sample Return Workshop

    The Near-Earth Asteroid Sample Return Workshop is held at the LPI. The purpose of this workshop is to bring together people of highly diverse backgrounds so they can identify the scientific issues best addressed by sample return from near-Earth asteroids.

  • January 24-25
    First Landing Site Workshop

    LPI co-sponsors the First Landing Site Workshop for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers, held at the NASA Ames Research Center. The purpose of the workshop is to evaluate potential landing sites best suited to achieving stated mission science objectives within the constraints imposed by engineering requirements and the necessity of ensuring a safe landing for the rovers.

  • February 21-22
    Forum on Innovative Approaches to Outer Planetary Exploration 2001–2020

    Forum on Innovative Approaches to Outer Planetary Exploration 2001–2020 is held at the LPI. This two-day forum, organized on behalf of the newly created Outer Planets Program (OPP) Directorate at NASA Headquarters, provides members of the international planetary community (including technologists, scientists, and engineers — from universities, industry, and government labs) a chance to share their best ideas about how planning should proceed during the next two decades for exploration of the outer planets.

  • April 7
    Mars Odyssey

    Mars Odyssey launches. An orbiter carrying science experiments designed to make global observations of Mars to improve our understanding of the planet’s climate and geologic history, including the search for water and evidence of life-sustaining environments, the name “2001 Mars Odyssey” was selected as a tribute to the vision and spirit of space exploration as embodied in the works of renowned science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke.

  • August 8

    Genesis, one of NASA’s Discovery Program missions, launches. The goal of the mission is to enrich our understanding of the birth and evolution of the planets and all the bodies in our solar system.

  • August 6-10
    Conference on the Geophysical Detection of Subsurface Water on Mars

    The Conference on the Geophysical Detection of Subsurface Water on Mars is held at the LPI. The purpose of the meeting is to clarify the need for a global geophysical reconnaissance for water on Mars, identify the types of investigations best suited for determining the distribution of subsurface water, assess the limitations and environmental complications associated with such investigations, and determine what other areas of Mars science would benefit from the acquisition of this proposed suite of geophysical data.

  • February 4
    Dr. Arch Reid

    Dr. Arch Reid is named Interim Director of the LPI.

  • June 4-6
    Workshop on Mars Infrared Spectroscopy

    A workshop on Mars Infrared Spectroscopy: From Theory and the Laboratory to Field Observations is held at the LPI. The objective of the workshop is to produce a report with detailed recommendations of laboratory and field analog studies needed to best support interpretations of visible/infrared datasets in light of the goals of NASA’s Mars program.

  • August 2
    Dr. David Black

    Dr. David Black takes over as Interim Director of the LPI while USRA finalizes the search for a permanent director.

  • September 12-14
    The Moon Beyond 2002

    The Moon Beyond 2002: Next Steps in Lunar Science and Exploration is held in Taos, New Mexico. Recognizing the renaissance in lunar science over the past ten years, the purpose of the workshop is to focus the planetary science community on the key questions that now need to be addressed to advance lunar science and exploration, as well as what actions should be taken by the community to best answer these questions.

  • October 11-12
    Unmixing the SNCs

    Unmixing the SNCs: Chemical, Isotopic, and Petrologic Components of the Martian Meteorites is held at the LPI. Recognizing that martian meteorites, despite being all basalts or their derivatives, show an enormous range of chemical and isotopic compositions, the purpose of the workshop is to bring new and existing results on chemical and isotopic components of martian basalts to a single forum through formal presentations and extended discussions.

  • November 2
    Dr. Stephen Mackwell

    Dr. Stephen Mackwell is appointed Director of the LPI.

  • February 28
    Asteroids III

    The University of Arizona Press, in collaboration with LPI, publishes Asteroids III, a Space Science Series volume.

  • June 2
     Mars Express

    The European Space Agency launches the Mars Express orbiter and its lander, Beagle 2. The mission is the first spacecraft sent to Mars by Europe, and is named “Mars Express” because it was built more quickly than any other comparable planetary mission.

  • June 10
    Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit

    The first Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, launches. The second rover, Opportunity, launches almost a month later, on July 7.

  • June 12-14

    The Forum on Concepts and Approaches for the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) is held at the LPI. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the science issues related to the JIMO project.

  • July 20-25
    Sixth International Conference on Mars

    The Sixth International Conference on Mars, co-sponsored by LPI, is held in Pasadena, California. The conference is designed to provide an opportunity to review and debate some of the key questions and controversies that have matured during the flood of Mar Global Surveyor and Odyssey data.

  • September 21
    Galileo spacecraft

    The Galileo spacecraft plunges into Jupiter's crushing atmosphere, deliberately destroyed to protect one of its own discoveries — a possible ocean beneath the icy crust of the moon Europa.
    Image credit: David A. Hardy

  • September 27
    SMART 1 lunar orbiter

    The SMART 1 lunar orbiter launches. The first of ESA’s Smart Missions for Advanced Research in Technology, the mission travels to the Moon using solar-electric propulsion and carrying a battery of miniaturized instruments.

  • October 15
    Shenzhou 5

    The People’s Republic of China launches Shenzhou 5, becoming only the third nation to put a human in space. Astronaut Yang Liwei and the spacecraft orbited the Earth 14 times before safely landing in north China the next day.

  • January 2

    The Stardust spacecraft successfully navigates through the particle- and gas-laden coma surrounding Comet Wild 2, catching samples of comet particles and scoring detailed pictures of Wild 2's pockmarked surface.

  • January 14
    President George W. Bush

    President George W. Bush announces the new Vision for Space Exploration in a speech at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Among its goals and objectives, the Vision aims for a human return to the Moon by 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations.

  • March 2

    The European Space Agency launches Rosetta, a mission to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

  • March 15-19
    35th LPSC

    The 35th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference is held at the South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center in League City, Texas, with 1317 in attendance.

  • May 19
    Comets II

    The University of Arizona Press, in collaboration with LPI, publishes Comets II, a Space Science Series volume.

  • August 3

    MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) launches to conduct an in-depth study of the planet Mercury. Mercury is the most extreme of the terrestrial (rocky) planets: the smallest, the densest (after correcting for self-compression), the one with the oldest surface, the one with the largest daily variations in surface temperature, and the least explored. Understanding this “end member” among the terrestrial planets is crucial to developing a better understanding of how the planets in our solar system formed and evolved.

  • November 30

    LPI publishes the 100th issue of the Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin. The issue includes a retrospective of articles published over the 30-year history of the quarterly publication.

  • January 12
    Deep Impact

    Deep Impact, the first space mission to probe beneath the surface of a comet, launches. On July 3, the spacecraft jettisons an impactor that crashes into Comet Tempel 1, providing the most up-close data and images of a comet in the history of space exploration.

  • January 14
    Huygens probe

    Cassini releases the Huygens probe into Titan’s atmosphere, revealing that the moon is remarkably Earth-like, with evidence of methane rain, erosion, stream-like drainage channels, dry lakebeds, volcanism, and very few craters.

  • February 8
    Ryder Crater

    The International Astronomical Union announces that a crater on the Moon has been named after the late Graham Ryder, who was a staff scientist at the LPI until his death in 2002. Ryder Crater is located at 44.5°S, 143.2°E. The name will be formally approved at the IAU General Assembly in 2006.

  • April 18
    Lunar Sourcebook

    LPI releases a digital version of Lunar Sourcebook: A User’s Guide to the Moon. Published by Cambridge University Press in collaboration with the LPI in 1991, this concisely presented collection of data gathered during the American and Soviet missions is an accessible and complete one-volume reference encyclopedia of scientific and technical information about the Moon. The out-of-print book is highly sought after following the President’s announcement of the vision of returning to the Moon.

  • May 24
    Voyager 1

    The Voyager 1 spacecraft, having traveled 8.7 billion miles from the Sun, crosses outside the termination shock and enters the final frontier of the solar system, the heliosheath, a vast, turbulent expanse where the Sun's influence ends and the solar wind crashes into the thin gas between stars. It remains the most distant artificial object from Earth.

  • July 1

    The LPI releases SkyTellers, an educational DVD designed for use in small planetariums, museums, libraries, and other educational environments. The project is a collaborative effort between the LPI and Ms. Lynn Moroney, a Chickasaw storyteller, and combines ten Native American myths with the scientific explanation of such phenomena as Moon phases, day and night, seasons, and the origin of the stars.

  • August 12

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launches. The mission is designed to conduct eight different science investigations at Mars, including global mapping, regional surveying, and high-resolution targeting of specific spots on the surface.

  • January 15

    The Stardust capsule returns to Earth, bringing back samples of interstellar dust that could offer vital clues about the origins of our solar system.

  • January 19
    New Horizons

    New Horizons launches, beginning its nine-year trek toward Pluto and the Kuiper belt. New Horizons is the first mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program of medium-class planetary missions.

  • April 11
    Venus Express

    ESA's Venus Express reaches Venus and goes into orbit.

  • June 19
    Meteorites and the Early Solar System II

    The University of Arizona Press, in collaboration with LPI, publishes Meteorites and the Early Solar System II, a Space Science Series volume.

  • August 24
    Pluto demoted

    The International Astronomical Union votes to demote Pluto from planetary status to dwarf planet status, resulting in the downsizing of the solar system from nine planets to eight.

  • November 8
    Abstract search tool

    LPI launches its new abstract search tool, which allows users to conduct refined searches of abstracts presented at LPI-sponsored meetings since 1997. The searchable database includes annual events such as the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) and Meteoritical Society (MetSoc) meetings, as well as many other topical workshops and conferences.

  • January 1
    Dr. Fred Tarantino

    Dr. Fred Tarantino is appointed the new President of USRA

  • February 1
    Protostars and Planets V

    The University of Arizona Press, in collaboration with LPI, publishes Protostars and Planets V, a Space Science Series volume.

  • July 22-29
    Earth's Extremophiles

    Earth's Extremophiles: Implications for Life in the Solar System is held at Yellowstone National Park. The purpose of this field-based workshop for science educators is to investigate the geologic processes that result in extreme environmental conditions and the environments themselves.

  • September 14
    Kaguya (SELENE)

    The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) launches the Kaguya (SELENE) lunar orbiter mission. The major objectives of the mission are to understand the Moon’s origin and evolution and to observe the Moon in various ways in order to utilize it in the future.

  • September 27

    NASA’s Dawn spacecraft launches. By exploring asteroids Ceres and Vesta, the goal of Dawn’s journey is to “travel” back in time over 4.5 billion years to the beginning of our solar system in an effort to understand planetary formation.

  • October 10
    Lunar Science and Exploration

    LPI launches its new Lunar Science and Exploration website. Spearheaded by Dr. David Kring, this web-based information portal provides the lunar science and exploration community with access to everything “lunar,” from the earliest Apollo-era documents to the most recent lunar research reports.

  • October 24
    Chang’e 1

    China’s first lunar orbiter, Chang’e 1, launches. The mission is designed to obtain stereo images of the lunar surface, analyze elements on the surface, and explore the environment between the Moon and Earth.

  • March 1
    40th anniversary

    LPI celebrates its 40th anniversary

  • May 27-August 1
    Lunar Exploration Summer Interns

    LPI hosts the inaugural class of Lunar Exploration Summer Interns.

  • July 23
    Dr. Paul Spudis

    LPI Staff Scientist Dr. Paul Spudis is named Chief Scientist of Odyssey Moon Limited, the first official contender for the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE.

  • September 13

    Hurricane Ike makes its final landfall near Galveston, Texas, as a strong Category 2 hurricane, with a Category 5 equivalent storm surge. Hurricane-force winds extended 120 miles (193 kilometers) from the center.

  • March 23-27

    LPSC celebrates its 40th anniversary and moves to The Woodlands, Texas.

  • June 18

    The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft launches.

  • July 30

    Europa is published by the University of Arizona Press in collaboration with the LPI.

  • November 19

    Brother Guy Consolmagno, Director of the Vatican Observatory, presents a public lecture at the LPI entitled “Astronomy, God, and the Search for Elegance.” The presentation is the first in a series of talks on “The Search for Meaning, for Planets, for Life,” featured in the LPI’s Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series.

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