List of Past Planetary Astronomy Lunches (PALS) : 01-Jan-2011 to 01-Jun-2011


Date:   Thu, 03-February-2011
Speaker:   David Lawrence (APL)
Title:  Planetary Neutron Spectroscopy : Using Neutrons to Measure the Composition of Planetary Surfaces

Abstract: Planetary neutron spectroscopy is a relatively new technique for measuring the composition of planetary surfaces. The first time neutrons were successfully used to measure the composition of another planetary body was the NSAS Lunar Prospector mission. Lunar Prospector made measurements of thermal, epithermal, and fast neutrons during its orbital mission of the Moon in 1998-1999. Since that time, neutron spectrometers have been included on at least five NASA missions that are either operating or in development. In this talk, I will discuss the principles of planetary neutron spectroscopy, along with neutron measurements results from two different missions, Lunar Prospector and MESSENGER, as well as the possibility of using neutron spectroscopy techniques for future missions to the icy moons of Jupiter. Neutron measurements have provided abundance information about hydrogen, iron, titanium, gadolinium, samarium, carbon, and average atomi mass. Furthe, these abundance measurements have revealed significant new understanding for how planetary bodies formed and have changed over time.

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 17-February-2011
Speaker:   NO PALS
Title:  STARDUST-NEXT flyby of comet Tempel-1

Abstract:

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 24-February-2011
Speaker:   Silvia Protopapa (UMD)
Title:  Surface Composition of Pluto and Charon: the Best Representatives of the Transneptunian region

Abstract: Beyond the orbit of Neptune exists a population of bodies that remained from the formation of the Solar System, e.g. the Kuiper Belt or Transneptunian objects (TNOs). TNOs are considered the most pristine Solar System bodies, and the investigation of their surface composition can help constrain the global view of the early solar nebula at large distances from the Sun. Detailed information about the composition of TNOs can be acquired from spectroscopic observations in the visible and near-infrared bands, where the most significant number of diagnostic absorption features can be found. The analysis of the available TNO spectra have shown large variations in the spectral behavior of these bodies, indicating the presence of two groups into the Kuiper Belt: volatile-rich and volatile-free surfaces, best represented by Pluto and its moon Charon, respectively. The Pluto/Charon system is bright enough for detailed measurements from Earth and the only one for which spectroscopic observations beyond 2.5 um are available. In 2006, NASA launched its New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto and its moon, the first probe ever targeting a dwarf planet in the outer Solar System. One of the main scientific objectives of NASA's New Horizons mission is to map the icy surface composition of Pluto and Charon. The encounter will be in 2015. Meanwhile remote observations from Earth and space are the most suitable means to further enhance our knowledge of the Pluto/Charon system. The state-of-the-art of the surface characterization of Pluto and Charon as best representatives of the transneptunian family and the implication on the origin and evolution of the outer Solar System will be presented.

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 03-March-2011
Speaker:   LPSC practice
Title:  People attending the LPSC conference have the opportunity to present their work

Abstract:

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 10-March-2011
Speaker:   NO PALS
Title:  LPSC conference

Abstract:

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 17-March-2011
Speaker:   Avi Mandell (Goddard)
Title:  "Hot Jupiter" Spectroscopy from the Ground: A Progress Report

Abstract: High resolution ground-based NIR spectroscopy offers an excellent complement to the expanding dataset of transit and secondary eclipse observations of exoplanets with Spitzer and ground-based photometry that have provided the bulk of our understanding of the atmospheres and internal structure of these objects. I will present preliminary results from observations of a single secondary eclipse of the bright transiting exo-planet host star HD189733 at L-band wavelengths (3-4 microns) using the NIRSPEC instrument on Keck-II, and discuss our on-going campaign to characterize the molecular chemistry in the atmospheres of exoplanets.

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 24-March-2011
Speaker:   NO PALS
Title:  SPRING BREAK

Abstract:

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 07-April-2011
Speaker:   Jade Williams (UMD)
Title:  Close view of Comet 103P/Hartley2: Photometry Results

Abstract: Last year˘s Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI) completed a successful flyby of Comet 103P/Hartley 2. Our mission set out to expand current knowledge of comets, as the fundamental building blocks of the giant planets and a source of water and organics on Earth. This close encounter lent the advantage of a close proximity at which to study the coma in great detail. Employing the Deep Impact spacecraft, observations of the comet during it's perihelion passage this past Nov. were made over nearly two months. The Medium Resolution Instrument (MRI) aboard the spacecraft using the CLEAR filter sensitive between 300-100 nm as well as individual gas filters took images of the comet, allowing for investigation of it's dust content, CN, OH, and C2 species. Images were quantified by conducting disk-integrated annular aperture photometry to measure the comet's flux. Characterization of the activity of comet Hartley 2 will be discussed by presenting photometric results.

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 14-April-2011
Speaker:   Bonev Boncho (Catholic University)
Title:  Parent Volatiles in Comet Hartley-2 (2010 apparition)

Abstract: This talk summarizes the initial results from high-resolution near-infrared spectroscopic observations of comet Hartley-2 during the 2010 apparition. Observations with Keck 2 before, during, and after closest approach to Earth allowed to measure a number of parent volatiles and address: 1) long- and short-term variation of production rates; 2) variation (or lack thereof) of mixing ratios (C2H6/H2O, CH3OH/H2O, HCN/H2O, etc.) with time; and 3) the spatial distributions of several species. Comet Hartley-2 also allowed detailed investigation of the water ortho-to-para abundance ratio (OPR; ortho and para states correspond respectively to parallel and anti-parallel orientation of the spins of the two-hydrogen nuclei in the molecule). The interpretations of cometary OPRs is uncertain. A comparison between new (Keck 2; 2010) and previously (ISO; 1997) measurements of OPR in Hatlley-2 illustrates key issues in understanding the meaning of this "enigmatic" parameter.

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 21-April-2011
Speaker:   Anne Raugh (UMD)
Title:  A brief introduction to the Planetary Data System (PDS)

Abstract: The Planetary Data System (PDS) was established more than 20 years ago to be the permanent repository for all data returned by NASA's planetary missions, and has served as a model for more recent development of planetary archive systems around the world. Originally designed and engineered to collect data as produced by the missions and to distribute it on CDs, the PDS has evolved to an all-electronic distribution system and is in the process of re-engineering its archiving standards to provide uniform formatting standards more congenial to the contemporary service- oriented environment.

This talk will present a brief overview of the history of the PDS and the current (version 3) standards, provide basic information on how to find what you want in the existing collections, and present the major changes anticipated in the upcoming version 4 of the PDS archiving standards.

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


Date:   Thu, 12-May-2011
Speaker:   John Debes (Goddard)
Title:  The Link Between Dusty White Dwarfs and Planets

Abstract: The direct imaging of planets around white dwarfs would provide a unique window into how planetary systems evolve during post main sequence evolution as well as a population of planets with reasonably well known ages. Given the technical challenges of detecting such planets, focused surveys need to be conducted. Fortunately, a significant fraction of white dwarfs might bear the markers of planetary systems--either through polluted white dwarfs that show absorption lines due to metals (types DAZ, DBZ, and DZ) or through IR excesses due to compact dusty disks. Physical mechanisms for creating these observable phenomena are scarce as are the statistics necessary to draw firm constraints on any model. I will present my new theoretical framework for creating dusty and polluted white dwarfs from relic planetary systems and show what new strides can be accomplished observationally with the work I've been doing on the NASA WISE IR Excesses around Degenerates (WIRED) Survey.

For further information please contact PALS coordinator Dr. Sebastien Besse at sbesse@astro.umd.edu, 301-405-9922.


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