2000s Events


September 13

Atlas of Galilean Satellites

The Atlas of Galilean Satellites, written by LPI staff scientist Paul Schenk, is published by Cambridge University Press.

September 18


International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) is established as an annual event.

December 15


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

December 18

Laurie Leshin, former LPI Intern (Class of 1985), is named as the new Deputy Associate Administrator for NASA’s Exploration Directorate.


June 6

Summer interns

LPI welcomes the 35th class of students in its prestigious LPI Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science.

August 5


The Juno mission to the giant planet Jupiter is launched. Juno’s primary goal is to reveal the story of Jupiter’s formation and evolution.

September 22

LPI’s Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series features author Dava Sobel at UH-Clear Lake to celebrate NASA’s “Year of the Solar System.”

November 18

A team of scientists, including LPI’s Paul Schenk, discover what appears to be a body of liquid water the volume of the North American Great Lakes locked inside the icy shell of Jupiter’s moon Europa — which could represent a new potential habitat for life. The results are published in the journal Nature.


June 25-28

Conference on Comparative Climatology of Terrestrial Planets

The conference on Comparative Climatology of Terrestrial Planets is held in Boulder, Colorado. The broad issues that come out of the panel discussions will guide the development of the edited University of Arizona Press volume of the same name.

August 6

Curiosity rover

The Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover lands on Mars.

December 10

The Clementine Atlas of the Moon, with new data, is published by Cambridge University Press. The Atlas is co-written by LPI’s Paul Spudis.

December 17


The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission ends as planned when the spacecraft impacts the Moon’s surface.


November 5


LPI is on one of the nine initial teams named to NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).

November 18


The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) launches in November.

November 22-23

Asteroid Initiative Idea Synthesis Workshop

NASA’s Asteroid Initiative Idea Synthesis Workshop was held at the LPI. Originally scheduled to begin on September 30, the workshop had to be rescheduled after the first day because of a U.S. government shutdown that began October 1.

December 10

Comparative Climatology of Terrestrial Planets is published by the University of Arizona Press in collaboration with the LPI.


March 17-21

45th LPSC

LPSC celebrates its 45th anniversary.

July 21

Paul Spudis

The NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) announces that Paul Spudis, a Senior Staff Scientist at the LPI, is the recipient of the 2014 Shoemaker Distinguished Scientist Medal. The Medal, named after American geologist and one of the founders of planetary science, Eugene Shoemaker, was awarded to Spudis for his significant scientific contributions to the field of lunar science throughout the course of his scientific career.

July 28-30

Workshop on the Study of the Ice Giant Planets

The Workshop on the Study of the Ice Giant Planets was held in Laurel, Maryland. The workshop was designed to raise awareness on the importance of ice giant planet system science and prioritize the discipline-specific science goals, with an eye toward guiding future Decadal Survey and other mission studies.

August 4

A paper written by a team of former interns is selected for the prestigious COSPAR Outstanding Paper Award for Young Scientists. The award is presented during the 40th COSPAR Scientific Assembly in Moscow. The paper, “Identification and Characterization and Science-Rich Landing Sites for Lunar Lander Missions Using Integrated Remote Sensing Observations,” was co-authored by a group of students who spent the summer of 2010 at the LPI as part of the Lunar Exploration Summer Intern Program.


January 29

Dr. Jill Tarter

Astronomer Dr. Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute discusses the accuracies and inaccuracies of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence as portrayed in the 1997 movie “Contact.” This presentation was part of the Lunar and Planetary Institute’s 2014–2015 Cosmic Exploration Speaker Series — “Science” on the Silver Screen.

April 30


NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission comes to a planned, but nonetheless dramatic, end as it slams into the surface of Mercury’s at about 14,082 kilometers per hour (8750 miles per hour), creating a new crater on the planet’s surface.

July 14

New Horizons

New Horizons flies by Pluto, making it the first spacecraft to explore the dwarf planet. The mission has revolutionized researchers’ understanding of Pluto, showing a complex world with towering ice mountains and vast ice plains.

October 1

Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution

Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution V, co-edited by LPI staff scientist David Kring, is published by the Geological Society of America.

October 29

New Horizons

LPI staff and workshop attendees have the unique experience of seeing a life-sized Mars rover firsthand. The rover makes an appearance during the First Landing Site/Exploration Zone Workshop for Human Missions to the Surface of Mars, held at the LPI on October 27–30.

December 2

Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution

Asteroids IV is published by the University of Arizona Press. This volume marks the 40th book in the prestigious Space Science Series, and the 11th volume produced in a unique collaborative agreement between the LPI and the University of Arizona Press.


March 8

Stephen J. Mackwell

LPI Director Stephen J. Mackwell is honored by the International Astronomical Union with the naming of main-belt asteroid (5292) Mackwell (formerly designated as 1991 AJ1). Mackwell, a valued steward of the science community, is known for his studies of the deformation of rocks and minerals at high-temperature and high-pressure conditions, relevant to the lithospheres and interiors of the terrestrial planets.

June 6

Summer Interns

LPI welcomes the 40th class of Planetary Science Summer Interns.

June 10

Sixth Annual Astronomy Festival

LPI participates in the Sixth Annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Science and education staff were on hand to discuss the latest in lunar and solar system science and exploration, as well as answer visitor questions about the solar system and discuss careers in science.

September 6

Louise Prockter

Dr. Louise Prockter becomes the first female director of the LPI.


March 16

Augmented reality

LPI releases its new augmented reality (AR) app.

April 27

LPI sign

LPI gets a new sign.

July 31

Pluto globe

Sky & Telescope announces the release of its Pluto globe. The mosaic used for the globe is based on a New Horizons map co-produced by LPI staff scientist Paul Schenk.

August 15-18

First Billion Years Initiative

LPI’s First Billion Years Initiative kicks off with the conference Accretion: Building New Worlds.

August 25-29

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey hits southeast Texas, inflicting at least $125 billion in damage and breaking the record for the most rainfall in any tropical system. Harvey is second only to Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record.

September 13

LPI teams with NASA on a new interactive e-book, The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini.

September 28

Issue #150 of the Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin is published.

December 2

The LPI holds a series of events featuring Harrison (“Jack”) Schmitt, including a library open house and a public lecture.


January 5


LPIB transitions to a new online format with Issue #151. The new design improves accessibility from more devices, enhances navigation to sections of interest, and makes it easier to share articles on social networking sites.

March 1

LPI logo

LPI celebrates its 50th anniversary! A number of activities are planned throughout the year, and colleagues and friends are invited to share their memories with us! For more details, visit LPI: Inspiration and Exploration Since 1968.

 2000s Events  |   Timeline

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