DPS Mailing #13-28 : November 16, 2013

Issue 13-28, November 16, 2013




For the last several years PSD has been investing in Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) technology with the intent to fabricate flight units for deep space missions. The advanced Stirling technology was selected to take advantage of its increased efficiency over the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermal Generator (MMRTG), since the supply of Plutonium-238 (Pu-238) was limited at the time.   Now, with the restart of the Pu-238 production project this year, we expect to have a sufficient supply of Pu-238 for radioisotope power well into the future.

With an adequate supply of Pu-238, and considering the current budget-constrained environment, NASA has decided to discontinue procurement of ASRG flight hardware.  We have given direction to the Department of Energy, which manages the flight procurement, to end work on the flight units.  The hardware procured under this activity will be transferred to the Glenn Research Center to continue development and testing of the Stirling technology.

For future planetary missions that require radioisotope power systems the flight-proven MMRTG will be made available.  It is important to note that the MMRTG and the ASRG were designed to provide the approximately the same electrical power output.

I am happy to discuss this decision at all the upcoming Assessment Group meetings and at the American Geophysical Union meeting next month where I will address any questions that you may have.



Dear fellow DPS members,

Next week we will be asking each of you to write letters and make phone calls to advocate for planetary science. This DPS members call to action is being coordinated with a simultaneous call to action for the planetary section members of AGU and GSA, so we have many planetary scientists to draw upon. This email is to provide you with information about the call to action.

Why now?

  • The bipartisan, bicameral budget committee has a deadline of December 13, and we want to influence that process.
  • The MAVEN launch scheduled for November 18 provides an excellent news hook.
  •  The leadership of DPS, the planetary sections of AGU and GSA, and The Planetary Society sent a joint letter to Congress (http://dps.aas.org/public_policy/PlanetaryScienceLetterToCongress_25Oct2013) on October 25 that is having an impact. Following up just a few weeks later with community action is the next step of our campaign and can maximize the impact.
  •  We want to get this call to action out before the week of Thanksgiving so we can reach members and staff while they are still in town.
  • What are we asking you to do?
  • Send a letter to your Representative in the House and both of your Senators. We will provide you with template letters.
  • Call the offices of your Representative and Senators to let them know you have sent the letter. We will provide you with a brief script to use.
  • Use social media to call attention to this call to action and to promote a timely planetary science highlight.

Why should you participate?

  • Constituents matter above all to Members of Congress! Letters and calls from constituents force staffers to sit up and take notice of an issue. If a number of them come in at once from constituents, it has an even more important impact.
  • Even if your elected official is not on the “right” committees, he/she still votes on bills and has influence with his/her colleagues.
  • We have had success in garnering Congressional support for planetary science, and we need to maintain and build on that momentum.
  • Many interest groups are advocating for themselves in these uncertain budget times. We really need our signal to rise above the noise.
  • How do you know who to write to and call?
  • For writing to your Representative and Senators, you will also need to fill out their online contact forms. (These letters really will reach them!) To find out who your Members of Congress are and get their phone numbers and websites, the AAS website has helpful search tool http://aas.org/resources/contacting-congress
  • Due to how districts are drawn, you may need to know your full zip code (zip + 4 digits). To find your full zip code you can use the USPS site https://tools.usps.com/go/ZipLookupAction!input.action

We know that this will take some of your time and energy. We plan to deploy our membership for action calls like this only a couple of times of year when advocacy can have the most impact. This is one of those times. We and the entire planetary science community greatly appreciates the time you take to 

An important last note: Be certain you understand your employer’s rules about such action. Federal employees, for example, must not conduct such activities using federal resources, i.e. you must participate using your personal time/email/phone number/electronic devices. No matter where you work, your Constitutional rights to petition your government are always valid; you can always participate in advocacy like this, but you may need to be careful about doing it on your own time and resources.

Another notification with template letters and call scripts will be sent out at the beginning of next week. If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch with DPS Federal Relations Subcommittee Chair Makenzie Lystrup at [email protected] Thank you – we’re looking forward to a strong response to this call to action!



The slides that were presented at the Planetary Science Subcommittee (PSS) meeting on November 5, are online at:


The PSS has suggested that each Assessment Group (AG) gather and compile questions, comments, and concerns that the community may have regarding the R&A restructuring plan and for each AG to send the compilation to Jim Green.

All questions, big and small, general or specific, are welcomed.

For CAPTEM, email Hap McSween  ([email protected]) For LEAG, email Jeff Plescia ([email protected]) For MEPAG, email Serina Diniega ([email protected]) For OPAG, email: Candy Hansen ([email protected]) For SBAG, email: Nancy Chabot ([email protected]) For VEXAG, email: Lori Glaze ([email protected])

In the compilation, the identities of those providing the comments will be removed, but the final compiled reports may be posted on AG websites. Please indicate in your reply if you do not want your comment included in a compilation (with identities removed) on the web.



A) “DYNAMIC MARS FROM LONG-TERM OBSERVATIONS” ICARUS SPECIAL ISSUE The deadline for manuscripts submitted to the Icarus special issue “Dynamic Mars from long-term observations” is now December 20, 2013.

This special issue is for papers that:

* Include surface, sub-surface, and atmosphere observations, or model   results, that are new and a unique outcome of the long-term data  acquisition provided by Mars spacecraft and telescopes
* Highlight the long-term implications of processes that are observed  and ongoing now
* Are not reviews of previous work

Submission Format:
The submitted papers must be written in English and describe original research which is not published nor currently under review by other journals or conferences. Author guidelines for manuscript preparation can be found at:


For more information, please contact the editorial office at :[email protected]

Guest Editors:
Nathan Bridges: [email protected] Leslie Tamppari: [email protected]

Internal Editor:
Jeffrey Moersch: [email protected]

B) ICARUS SPECIAL ISSUE – THE PLUTO SYSTEM An Icarus special issue on Pluto system science will be published in 2014. The pace of discovery about the Pluto system has accelerated continually since its discovery in 1930, and we are now on the doorstep of the most dramatic advances yet, with the system’s exploration by NASA’s New Horizons probe in 2015. New Horizons, equipped with a powerful suite of scientific instruments, will explore Pluto and its complex system of moons and potential rings/dust assemblages. The encounter will herald the exploration of the newly recognized planetary class called ice dwarfs, prevalent in the outer solar system.  This special issue sets the stage for the encounter, with scientific papers on:

+ New results from observations, theoretical modeling, and laboratory
+ studies relevant to the Pluto system Pre-encounter predictions of
+ Pluto system properties and processes Investigations into the
+ implications of Pluto system science for broader outer Solar Systemn studies

All are welcome to contribute.

The submission deadline is December 20. Go to: http://ees.elsevier.com/icarus and select “Special Issue: Pluto System” under manuscript type.

Special issue editors: Will Grundy, Alan Stern, Fran Bagenal, Randy Gladstone, and Bonnie Buratti.

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You are wholeheartedly invited to participate in FameLab: Exploring Earth and Beyond!

FameLab is something like American Idol for scientists. Sponsored by NASA and National Geographic, it’s a fun-filled day of competition, coaching, and camaraderie that’s all about science communication!  Early career scientists from diverse scientific disciplines craft a 3-minute, powerpoint-free talk on their research or a related topic and deliver it in a supportive environment to judges who give only constructive feedback.  No slides, no charts—just the power of words and any prop you can hold in your hands.  The heart of the whole thing is a workshop conducted by communication professionals to help participants enrich their skills.  So unlike American Idol, everyone wins!

See video clips of prior FameLabbers here: http://famelab-eeb.arc.nasa.gov/competitions/

We’ve had 4 regional competitions so far in “Season 2” here in the US, and our next one is at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual meeting in San Francisco on Sunday, December 8th.

Winners from the regional competitions advance to the Final at National Geographic in DC in April, 2014, and the winner there goes on to compete with peers from around the world at the FameLab International Final in the UK in June, 2014…it’s quite the global sensation.

Even if you’re not planning to attend AGU, you’re welcome to participate.

Register today at: http://famelab-eeb.arc.nasa.gov/competitions/2013-agu-december/

Contact Daniella Scalice of the NASA Astrobiology Institute if you have any questions at [email protected].



The ALMA Director, on behalf of the partner organizations and all the personnel in Chile, East Asia, Europe, and North America involved in bringing ALMA to Early Science readiness, is pleased to issue the Cycle 2 Call for Proposals.

We invite members of the astronomy community to propose programs to be scheduled within the ALMA Early Science Cycle 2 period which will start  in June 2014. This provides a new important opportunity for Early Science from this cutting edge facility. The Cycle 2 period will span 17 months and users of any professional background, nationality, or affiliation may submit proposals. It is anticipated that about 2000 hours of 12-m Array time and ACA time will be available for Cycle 2 projects and highest priority projects transferred from Cycle 1. A list of the metadata from Cycle 1 proposals designated for transfer into Cycle 2 has been posted to the ALMA Science Portal, so that Cycle 2 PIs can avoid duplicating these observations.

The ALMA Cycle 2 proposal submission deadline is 15:00 UT, 5 December 2013.

For details, please see the ALMA Call for Proposals:



You should have paid your 2014 membership dues online at https://members.aas.org/ by 31 December 2013. Please take the time to renew by logging in to your membership record (today !) and in any case before the membership lists are updated within a month or two from the beginning of 2014.  By renewing online and not receiving a paper renewal, you will help your Society save enormous costs.

Also, please take a moment to update your personal DPS member file.Thank you for your attention.

Send general replies to [email protected].



For all Job opportunities, please visit http://dps.aas.org/jobs and also consider posting a job by filling out the jobs submission form at:


You can send any comments, questions, or suggestions to the DPS Jobs Czar at:  [email protected]

A) POSTDOCTORAL OPPORTUNITY IN MARTIAN GEOBIOLOGY, FRANCE The FP7-funded MASE project (Mars Analogue Sites on Earth) seeks to determine the survivability of anaerobic microorganisms isolated from extreme terrestrial environments and subjected to various Mars-related environmental stresses. However, since it is unlikely that life could survive at the surface of the planet under its present oxidizing and radiation conditions, the ultimate goal is to determine what biosignatures could be preserved in rocks dating from the time on Mars when life may have flourished at the surface (Early-Mid Noachian). The environmentally-abused anaerobes will be artificially fossilized and processed to imitate potential microfossils in Noachian-age martian rocks and the ensuing biosignatures will be analysed in order to determine what might be preserved.

We seek a biogeoscientist for a 3 year postdoctoral position starting in mid 2014 to participate in this exciting and hugely timely project to detect biosignatures on Mars. The candidate should ideally have some experience in biogeology, for instance in microbe-mineral interactions, and the analytical techniques needed to analyse the microorganisms (electron microscopy, GC-MS, HPLC, Raman/IR spectroscopy etc.).

Interested candidates are requested to send their CVs by email to:
Dr. Frances Westall ([email protected]) Head Exobiology Group, CNRS-Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire, Rue Charles Sadron, 45071 Orléans cedex 2, France

B) POSTDOCTORAL POSITION “MARS ANALOGUES FOR SPACE EXPLORATION” AT LEIDEN INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY We are seeking an enthusiastic and excellent Postdoctoral Fellow to work for the newly funded EU FP7 Framework Program MASE: Mars Analogues for Space Exploration. The program targets the limits of life on Earth and how we can detect life in extreme environments. The project involves partners from across Europe as well as international partners. The position is for 2.5 years and will be based in the Astrobiology Group at Leiden Institute of Chemistry. Candidates motivated in working on analogue research in support of future space exploration are invited to apply.

Responsibilities will include:
üü Support of campaigns at selected terrestrial analogue sites to study their geological context, and to acquire pre-screened samples using in-situ portable instruments.
üü Investigation of the habitability context on site in comparison with remote sensing data.
üüPost-analysis of collected samples in the laboratory to further investigate the mineralogy, organic matter content, and biota using extraction and analytical methods.
üü Characterisation of the environmental context for organic/life detection of the selected analogue sites using the combined dataset.

The research goal is to refine search methodologies and strategies in conditions similar to those expected on Mars and other planetary objects through a combination of field research, coordinated multi-instrument data and ground sample analysis.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. in chemistry, geochemistry, biochemistry or related disciplines at commencement of employment. The applicant must have laboratory experience in spectroscopic and analytical methods. The postdoc is expected to travel for field campaign support and collaboration between MASE partner institutes (in UK, Germany, Spain, France, Iceland) and to function in a multidisciplinary research team (EU FP7 framework). Engineering background and interest in space research will be an advantage; Good English knowledge is essential.

Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a statement of research experience, and two letters of recommendation. The starting date for the positions can be as early as January 1, 2014. Review of applications will begin on November 15, 2013 and will continue until the position is filled.

Please send all information and questions to:
Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund
Leiden Institute of Chemisty
P O Box 9502
2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands
Email: [email protected] 


Start date: September 2014

Application period: October 2013 through January 2014

Further information: http://www.spacescience.org

The Space Science Institute (SSI) in Boulder, CO, is seeking a dynamic, forward-looking individual to lead the organization as Executive Director.  Qualified candidates will have a strong reputation within a scientific field relevant to the institute (e.g., planetary science, astrophysics, space physics, or Earth science) and will possess excellent leadership, managerial, interpersonal, and administrative skills.  The Executive Director will be expected to maintain his/her own independent research program to help support a dedicated portion (ideally, 25-50%) of time/salary.  Candidates must have a Ph.D. and approximately ten years of experience in project management.

Applications should include a cover letter, CV, description of current research/education interests, and contact information for three references.  Inquiries and applications should be sent to [email protected].

SSI is a non-profit, public-benefit 501(c)3 corporation and operates as an Equal Opportunity employer.  This job description is general in nature and should not be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities and qualifications of the position. More information about SSI can be found at www.spacescience.org

D) RESEARCH SCIENTIST POSITIONS AT ELSI, THE EARTH-LIFE SCIENCE INSTITUTE IN TOKYO The Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is now providing opportunities for ELSI Research Scientist positions.  Up to 20 positions are offered in the present recruitment.

See : http://www.elsi.jp/en/recruitment/research-scientist-positions-2013/

ELSI aims to answer the fundamental questions of how the Earth was formed, how life originated in the environment of early Earth, and how this life evolved into complexity.

ELSI will pursue these questions by studying the “origin and evolution of life” and the “origin and evolution of the Earth” through an interdisciplinary collaboration between the fields of Earth, Life, and Planetary Sciences.  By understanding the early Earth context that allowed for the rise of initial life, we will also contribute to a greater understanding of the likelihood of extraterrestrial life in our solar and exosolar systems.

Tokyo is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world.  ELSI is situated in the Meguro Ward of Tokyo, with convenient and quick train access to all major city centers and attractions.  ELSI has experienced staff who are dedicated to providing full relocation assistance to ease the transition to Japan, including help with immigration procedures, housing, health care, and all other basic needs.

Scientific fields related to research themes pursued at ELSI include but are not limited to:
— Formation of the Earth
— Early Earth environment and evolution
— Deep Earth properties and dynamics
— Solar system exploration
— Formation and characterization of exoplanets
— Abiotic chemical evolution
— Origin of Life
— Early biological evolution
— Bacterial ecology
— Metagenomics
— High performance computing
— Bioinformatics
— Biogeochemical Cycling
— Requirements

E) ANNUAL CALL FOR NOMINATIONS FOR NASA SCIENCE ADVISORY SUBCOMMITTEES NASA invites nominations for service on NASA science advisory subcommittees of the NASA Advisory Council. U.S. citizens may nominate individuals and also submit self-nominations for consideration as potential members of NASA’s science advisory subcommittees.

NASA’s science advisory subcommittees have member vacancies from time to time throughout the year, and NASA will consider nominations and self-nominations to fill such intermittent vacancies. NASA is committed to selecting members to serve on its science advisory subcommittees based on their individual expertise, knowledge, experience, and current/past contributions to the relevant subject area.

These are not full-time positions. Successful nominees will be required to attend meetings of the subcommittee approximately two or three times a year, either in person (NASA covers travel-related expenses for this non-compensated appointment) or via telecom and/or virtual meeting medium.

The deadline for NASA receipt of all public nominations is November 22, 2013.

To obtain further information on NASA’s science advisory subcommittees, please visit the NAC Science Committee’s subcommittee Web site at:

[From the PEN]


Caltech’s Keck Institute for Space Studies is accepting applications for a postdoctoral position in the field of planetary science in connection with an ongoing study entitled “New Approaches to Lunar Ice Detection and Mapping”:

The objective of the project will be to collect and compare available spacecraft and telescope remote sensing data with the goal of forming  a coherent picture of the distribution and nature of lunar ice deposits to help guide future exploration activities. Applicants should have a Ph.D. in Planetary Science, Physics, Astronomy or related fields, and have experience working with large multidimensional datasets. The successful applicant will be based at either Caltech campus or the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

For more information about the KISS postdoctoral program, see:

To request information on the lunar ice study and postdoctoral opportunity, contact Paul Hayne ([email protected])

G) 2014 LPI SUMMER INTERN PROGRAM IN PLANETARY SCIENCE Application Deadline: January 17, 2014

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) invites undergraduates with at least 50 semester hours of credit to experience cutting-edge research in the lunar and planetary sciences. As a Summer Intern, you will work one-on-one with a scientist at the LPI or at the NASA Johnson Space Center on a research project of current interest in lunar and planetary science. Furthermore, you will participate in peer-reviewed research, learn from top-notch planetary scientists, and preview various careers in science.

The 10-week program runs from June 2 through August 8, 2014. Interns will receive a $5000.00 stipend plus $1000.00 U.S. travel stipend, or $1500.00 foreign travel reimbursement for foreign interns.

Please note that due to security issues, citizens of U.S. State Department Designated Countries (see link under “ECP Notices” at: http://oiir.hq.nasa.gov/nasaecp/ are not eligible. Selection is based on (1) scholarship, curriculum, and experience; (2) career objectives and scientific interest; and (3) match of interest of applicant with available research projects.

Applications are only accepted via the electronic application form found at the LPI’s Summer Intern Program website:


Contact: Claudia Quintana, 281-486-2159, [email protected]

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To see the Planetary Section related Sessions click on:


If DPS members intend to attend, please consider spending some time at the AAS booth to communicate with the community.


The primary objective of this workshop will be to focus on the astrobiological potential of icy worlds in the outer solar system–including Europa, Ganymede, Enceladus, Titan and beyond–with discussion on future research directions and spacecraft missions that can best assess that potential. The agenda for the workshop will be organized around thematic sessions that address the potential habitability of the unique planetary environments of the outer solar system. Presentations on research involving terrestrial analogs for icy world environments are also encouraged. The workshop will be divided into thematic sessions on: water and exotic solvents; chemical energy for life; organics and their detection; ocean physics and chemistry; icy world activity and habitability over time; continuing and future outer solar system exploration.

Abstract Deadline:  November 26, 2013.


Deadline for abstracts : 6 December 2013

Motivated by the rapidly increasing number of known earth-sized planets, the increasing range of extreme conditions in which life on Earth can persist, and the progress toward a technology that will ultimate enable the search for life on exoplanets, the Vatican Observatory and the Steward Observatory announce a major conference entitled Exoplanets, Observations & Biosignatures: The Search for Life Beyond the Solar System.

The goal of the meeting is to help the international astronomical community toward the long-term goal of finding life beyond the solar system by bringing together the communities working on the observations and modeling of extrasolar planets, the development of exoplanet-focused instrumentation, biosignatures suitable for remote sensing, and the extreme life on Earth.

Astrobiology School: The conference will be preceded by an independently-organized three-day school hosted at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2.  The school will allow graduate students and junior postdocs to learn from the invited/keynote speakers and additional lecturers about the key topics of the conference. This will help them to benefit fully from the multi-disciplinary program and to connect with their peers from other disciplines.

Proceedings: The conference proceedings will be published as a special issue of the International Journal of Astrobiology (Cambridge University Press). Contributions will be available through the NASA ADS system.

Website:  http://www.ebi2014.org

Contact:  [email protected]

April 22-24, 2014
George Washington University, Washington, DC

Co-sponsored by Explore Mars, the George Washington University, and the Space Policy Institute at GW, the Humans to Mars Summit (H2M) will be a comprehensive Mars exploration conference to address the major technical, scientific, and  policy related challenges that need to be overcome to send humans to  Mars by 2030. Topics will include Mars mission architecture and  challenges, science goals, planetary protection, International  cooperation, space and US competitiveness, ISRU, and many other topics.

Some of the tentative speakers already include William Gerstenmaier, James Garvin, Doug McCuistion, Penelope Boston, Sam Scimemi, Mike Raftery, Marc Kaufman, Buzz Aldrin, Joel Levine, Rebecca Keiser, and many more.

Take advantage of our special early registration today and save money before the registration fee increases after January 1, 2014:


or visit our website at:



Bergen, Norway, 20-22 May 2014

This meeting will to bring together astronomers, geologists, biologists and other interested scientists to share interdisciplinary approaches to detect signs of life on early Earth and other celestial bodies (including exoplanets) and to elucidate the environmental limits and origins of life.

Scientific sessions are planned for the following subjects:

-Formation and detection of complex molecules in the interstellar medium -Organic molecules in planetary and satellite atmospheres -Remote sensing of planetary surfaces -Characterization of exoplanets and their atmospheres -Meteorite bombardment and prebiotic chemistry on the Hadean Earth -Early Earth habitable environments: Oceans, atmosphere & crustal growth -Earliest fingerprints for life on Earth -Impacts and their role in the evolution transfer and possible detection of life -Biomineralization & life in sediments -Deep sea hydrothermal vents & biomarkers from sub-seafloor life -Archea & biomarkers for life in extreme environments.

The meeting is co-organized by the Nordic Network of Astrobiology and the Centre of Geobiology at the University of Bergen and will take place from 20 to 22 May 2014 at the Egget Auditorium at the University of Bergen. For further information about the event, go to: