49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

March 19-23, 2018
The Woodlands, Texas

49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference logo

The 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) was held in March at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in The Woodlands, Texas, and was co-chaired by Louise Prockter of the Lunar and Planetary Institute and Eileen Stansbery of the NASA Johnson Space Center. Attendance was high, with 1789 attendees from 33 countries. Submitted abstract numbers were also high, with 2012 abstracts submitted from 44 countries. LPSC continues to be accessible and important to young scientists, with student participation at more than 32% of total attendance. Meeting organization was provided by the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI).

LPSC began with Sunday evening registration and a very successful welcome event, which gave participants an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues. Beginning on Monday morning, the conference featured four-and-a-half days of sessions, including such topics as the Cassini mission, meteorites, early Mars, lunar chronology, planetary volcanism, tectonics, terrestrial impact cratering, and many more. The complete program and abstracts are available at https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2018/program/.

The plenary session on Monday afternoon featured the Masursky Lecture, “Cassini’s Amazing Discoveries,” by Dr. Linda Spilker of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The winners of the 2017 Dwornik Awards, the 2018 LPI Career Development Awards, and the 2018 Pierazzo International Student Travel Award were also recognized. During the Monday evening NASA Headquarters Briefing, representatives from the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate addressed meeting attendees.

Linda Spilker

Dr. Linda Spilker presented this year’s Masursky Lecture.

Poster sessions held on Tuesday and Thursday evening included the same topics covered in the oral sessions, as well as topics in education and public outreach. The poster sessions offered an opportunity for participants to network and share science. Other networking opportunities included technology demonstrations of LPI’s virtual reality, augmented reality, and the green screen.

 In addition to the oral sessions, there were many peripheral meetings and activities held during the week, including an educational engagement opportunity (Planetary Science Palooza), a workshop highlighting Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies, a workshop on planetary image analysis with ArcGIS, and a panel discussion honoring the 45th Anniversary of Apollo 17.

Once again, the conference engaged LPSC Microbloggers to use social media to provide real-time coverage of the science presented during the sessions. Combined with a Twitter feed on the meeting website, this coverage allowed participants to know what was going on in the sessions they were unable to attend and also provided information for those in other parts of the world who were not able to make it to the meeting.

49th LPSC participant at the green screen

Fun at the green screen!

 Plans are already underway for the 50th LPSC, which is scheduled for March 2019. Details will be made available on the meeting website soon.