Solar System Exploration Division (690) Local News Archive

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Poster Blowout 2018

Note from the Director:
I would like to thank the Director’s Science Committee for putting on an amazingly successful event where scientists and engineers across Goddard shared their work and made new contacts. The interdisciplinary interactions were especially exciting and crossed all four science disciplines.

Click the title of this news item or the image below for more images from the poster party. scientists standing in front of a poster

Summer 2018 Astrobiology Research Opportunity for Undergraduates

Applications are being accepted for Undergraduate Research Associates in Astrobiology, an intensive 10-week program in which students will work with scientists in the Goddard Center for Astrobiology at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. This is a residential program for undergraduates, with housing at the University of Maryland College Park. Participants will be paid a stipend and given a modest travel allowance. Program dates: May 29 to Aug. 3, 2018. Applications due: Jan. 26, 2018. For more information and an application, click here.

Goddard Planetary Instruments Win Development, Maturation Funding

Three instrument proposals led by researchers in Goddard's Solar System Exploration Division were selected for funding by the PICASSO and MatISSE programs. The PICASSO selection was "Development of a Prototype for the Thermal Infrared Composite Imaging Spectrometer (TIRCIS) Instrument," with Terry Hurford as the PI. Selected for MatISSE funds were the "Mars Lidar for Global Climate Measurements from Orbit (MARLI)" with James Abshire as the PI, and "Picture this SELFI: A Maturation Project for a Submillimeter Enceladus Life Fundamentals Instrument (SELFI)" with Gordon Chin as the PI. Read more here.

More Goddard CubeSat Mission Concepts Selected for Study

Researchers in Code 690 have leadership roles in six studies selected under the Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies (PSDS3) program to develop mission concepts for small satellites. 1. Valeria Cottini, PI: the CubeSat UV Experiment (CUVE); 2. Timothy Stubbs, PI: Bi-sat Observations of the Lunar Atmosphere above Swirls (BOLAS); 3. Tilak Hewagama, PI: Primitive Object Volatile Explorer (PrOVE); 4. Noah Petro, PI: Mini Lunar Volatiles (MiLUV) mission; 5. Mike Collier, PI: Phobos Regolith Ion Sample Mission (PRISM); and 6. Barbara Cohen, co-Investigator: Lunar Water Assessment, Transport, Evolution, and Resource (WATER) mission. Read more here.

Goddard CubeSat Mission Concepts Selected for Study

Two studies led by researchers in Code 690 were selected under the Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies (PSDS3) program to develop mission concepts using small satellites to investigate Venus, Earth’s moon, asteroids, Mars and the outer planets. Timothy Stubbs leads the Bi-sat Observations of the Lunar Atmosphere above Swirls (BOLAS), which would use tethered 12-unit CubeSats to investigate the moon's hydrogen cycle. Valeria Cottini leads the CubeSat UV Experiment (CUVE), a 12-unit CubeSat orbiter to measure ultraviolet absorption and nightglow emissions to understand Venus’ atmospheric dynamics.

Four GSFC scientists were named AGU fellows

Paul MahaffyClaire ParkinsonBrent HolbenNat Gopalswamy
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) today announced its 2016 Fellows, an honor given to individual AGU members who have made exceptional scientific contributions and gained prominence in their respective fields of Earth and space sciences. Since the AGU Fellows program was established in 1962, and according to the organization’s bylaws, no more than 0.01 percent of the total membership of AGU is recognized annually. This year’s class of Fellows are geographically diverse coming from 18 states and eight countries and includes Goddard scientists Paul Mahaffy, Claire Parkinson, Brent Holben, and Nat Gopalswamy.

Science Jamboree event photos

The 2016 Science Jamboree was a great success! A collection of 50 photos from the event are available now.

Goddard Scientists Named Fellows of the American Geophysical Union

Four Goddard scientists were named 2016 fellows of the American Geophysical Union in recognition of their contributions to Earth and space sciences. Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist in Goddard’s Earth Sciences Division; Nat Gopalswamy in the Solar Physics Laboratory; Brent Holben in the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory; and Paul Mahaffy, director of Goddard’s Solar System Exploration Division, were among the 60 new fellows elected this year. The American Geophysical Union established its Fellows Program in 1962, and only 0.1% of the organization’s membership receives this recognition in any given year. The new fellows will be honored in a December 14 ceremony during the American Geophysical Union’s fall 2016 meeting in San Francisco.

Library of Congress Lecture on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Mission

Jason P. Dworkin, chief of Goddard's Astrochemistry Laboratory gave a free lecture on May 24 at the Library of Congress about NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, which is scheduled to launch on Sept. 8, 2016.

NASA Employees Among Finalists for Prestigious Heyman Medal

This year’s finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal include Goddard scientist Dennis Reuter and his team, nominated for contributions to the New Horizons mission, which flew past Pluto in July 2015.

Paul Mahaffy Named Director of the Solar System Exploration Division

Paul Mahaffy has been named the new Director of Goddard’s Solar System Exploration Division. Paul served for nearly 10 years as Chief of the Planetary Environments Laboratory, leading this group’s study of planetary atmospheres and surface environments with emphases on the modeling of atmospheres and surface environments, advanced instrument development, the study of terrestrial planetary analogs, and the development of space-qualified instruments. Paul is currently Principal Investigator of the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) investigation on the Curiosity rover and of the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) on the MAVEN Mars orbiter. He previously participated in a wide range of planetary missions, including those to Jupiter, Saturn, comets, and the moon.

Goddard Lab Chief Earns 2015 Maryland Chemist Award

Jason Dworkin, chief of Goddard's Astrochemistry Laboratory, is receiving the 2015 Maryland Chemist Award on Dec. 9. The award is given each year by the Maryland Section of the American Chemical Society for outstanding achievement in pure or applied chemistry, chemical engineering or chemical education.

NASA Scientist to Discuss "New Horizons: Journey to Pluto and Beyond" at Library of Congress Lecture

The Dec. 8, 2015, talk will be given by Dennis Reuter, the instrument scientist for Ralph -- the New Horizons color imager and infrared spectrometer. Reuter will discuss the New Horizons mission and the first close-up images of Pluto.

Goddard Scientist to Discuss Dawn Mission at Library of Congress

Goddard researcher Lucy McFadden will speak in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 11:30 a.m. The title of her talk is “Dawn: A Journey to the Beginning of the Solar System.”

Geronimo Villanueva wins Urey Prize

Congratulations to Geronimo Villanueva for winning the 2015 Urey Prize from the American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Sciences! This award recognizes Geronimo's exceptional contributions as a young planetary scientist to research on comets and the Mars atmosphere. This is a very prestigious award, and has never before been won by a Goddard scientist. Way to go Geronimo! Read the citation.

Jacob Bleacher Wins Susan Neibur Early Career Award

The Susan Mahan Niebur Early Career Award is an annual award given to an early career scientist who has made significant contributions to the science or exploration communities. Recipients of the Susan M. Niebur Early Career Award are researchers who are 10 years out or less from their Ph.D., who have shown excellence in their field and demonstrated meaningful contributions to the science or exploration communities. This year the prize was presented to Jacob E. Bleacher of SSERVI’s RIS4E and DREAM2 teams at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Emily Wilson and team receive Honorable Mention in Invention of the Year (IOY) Awards for 2014

The Office of the General Counsel announced the winners of the Invention of the Year (IOY) Awards for 2014. Among the Honorable Mentions is the “Miniaturized Laser Heterodyne Radiometer for Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Measurements in the Atmospheric Column” from Goddard Space Flight Center. Please congratulate Emily Wilson Steel and her team.

Pamela Conrad - Using Curiosity to Search for Life

Scientist Pamela Conrad helps give NASA’s Curiosity rover a daily to-do list to look for life’s building blocks on Mars.

Part Two of the interview.

Shawn Domagal-Goldman - Looking for What's 'Out There'

Do dead planets sometimes appear alive and vice versa? Goddard researcher Shawn Domagal-Goldman uses computer modeling to imagine all kinds of planets and predict how our instruments might see them.

Part Two of the interview.

Special Titan Lecture: 101 Flybys and Counting

Goddard scientists will host a free public lecture on Apr. 8, 2014, to celebrate the science and exploration Saturn's moon Titan, including the milestone of the Cassini mission's 101st flyby.

Anne Kinney wins a Presidential Rank Award

Anne Kinney received a 2012 Presidential Rank Award (Meritorious Executive). These awards are given to high-performing senior career employees for "sustained extraordinary accomplishment." Executives from across Government are nominated by their agency heads, evaluated by citizen panels, and designated by the President. Winners of these awards are deemed to be strong leaders, professionals, or scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.

NASA Science Pioneer: Bertram Donn (1919 - 2012)

Dr. Bertram "Bert" Donn, the first head of NASA Goddard's astrochemistry group, passed away on Friday December 28, 2012 at age 93. Bert helped put Goddard science on the map in the early days, both within and beyond NASA. He also was influential in starting two lab efforts at Goddard and in hiring some of our better-known scientists.
Reggie Hudson

International Workshop on "Instrumentation for Planetary Missions" - Oct 10-12, 2012

International Workshop on "Instrumentation for Planetary Missions" - IPM 2012- will be coming to Goddard October 10-12, 2012. Plan on registering and attending. There will oral and poster presentations concerning instrumentation and technology for planetary missions.

Keynote Speakers are Dr. John Mather, Dr. Chris Weber, Dr. Amy Simon-Miller.

Abstracts/papers submission are due July 9, 2012. Registration is now open! More information is at:
Brook Lakew

"Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman"

Mike Callahan appeared on "Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman" discussing meteoritic nucleobases on the Science Channel show.
Alternate URL:

"Cosmic Front"

Danny Glavin appeared on "Cosmic Front" discussing Stardust and meteorite organics on NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation
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