USGS Scientists present new research at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

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New discoveries and data analyses are only part of the science process. Once a scientist has their results and conclusions, they must share their science with other scientists and with the public, and one venue for this is the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC). Despite the global pandemic, LPSC will convene for its 52nd year,  albeit virtually on March 15-19, 2021.

Virtual conferences present many new challenges including the need to navigate new software presentation tools and meet earlier deadlines. A typical science conference includes oral presentations, where presenters give short (typically 8- to 15- minute) talks about their research, and poster presentations, where presenters create large posters of their science results to display in a large hall so that other scientists can mingle and talk with the poster presenters about the content of their poster. During a virtual conference, oral presentations are delivered online (either pre-recorded or given live) and the posters are uploaded to a page to be explored by “conference-goers” on their own time. 

Despite the uncertainties of a virtual conference, several Astrogeology scientists rose to the challenge and submitted abstracts (identified by their number below, after which is the type of presentation they are giving). USGS Astrogeology Physical Scientist Holly Buban has attended conferences in-person, but this is the first time she has prepared a virtual poster: “The iPoster platform took a little while to get used to, but I really like that it is interactive for users and provides the presenter with more space than they would have on a paper/in-person poster,” she said. “I am interested to see how networking and connecting with peers at LPSC goes.” In addition to the many presentations highlighted below, Astrogeology scientists also collaborate on research and co-author presentations, which are listed at the bottom. If you are not registered for LPSC, you can attend LPSC Live, which is open to the public to hear updates from the sessions of each day: March 15 – 18 at 7pm CDT. USGS Pathways Intern Lori Pigue will be presenting during the March 17th LSPC Live panel along with two other planetary scientists presenting at LPSC. 

USGS Pathways Intern Lori Pigue standing at her poster during LPSC 2018.

USGS Pathways Intern Lori Pigue (formerly Lori Glaspie) standing at her poster during LPSC 2018.

Presentations led by USGS authors:

Ryan Anderson (Poster 1606): SuperCam Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) Data Processing, Calibration, and First Results. SuperCam is an instrument on the Mars2020 Perseverance Rover that will look at the Martian surface with a camera, laser, and sensors that will give us information about the composition of rocks on Mars. Ryan gives an overview of the instrument’s capabilities, calibration, how it will collect data, and what processed data may look like once we start getting results back.

Kristen Bennett (Poster 2434): The Preventing Harassment in Science Workshop: Summary and Best Practices. The Preventing Harassment in Science workshop was convened to share ideas and discuss best practice methods to leaders at their institutions and to take back to their institutions to make effective changes in those communities. Leaders in anti-harassment training at their institutions came away from this workshop with action items to focus their trainings in their home communities and resources to support their continued efforts.

Holly Buban (Poster 2523): Geologic Mapping in the Southern Utopia Basin. Planetary Geologic Mapping has a long heritage at USGS Astrogeology and Holly is presenting updates and future work to submit this map for publication. This mapping effort surveys a region with features whose origin is currently unknown, potentially helping identify spatial, structural, or geologic relationships between these features and other features in the area.

Ken Herkenhoff (Poster 2754): Preliminary Design Concept of Locust Inspired Jumping Moon Robot Swarm. Designing innovative robots for lunar exploration can be difficult, and especially so for the Moon because it’s difficult to navigate and has no atmosphere, making aerial drone-based exploration impossible. This talk explores the concept of a swarm of jumping robots inspired by locusts which could cover large areas, mapping areas that are difficult to navigate by rovers with wheels, or explore difficult to reach places such as lava tubes.

Laszlo Keszthelyi (Talk 2005 and Poster 2009): Progress Toward a Porous Flow Model for the Emplacement of Pahoehoe Flow Fields (talk) and Measuring Ionian Lava Temperatures vi VNIR Color Imaging (poster).  This talk is inspired by observations of active lava flows at Kilauea between 1986 and 2018, and it explains why lava flows the way it does mathematically. With Astro collaborator Elise Rumpf, Laszlo uses commercial modeling software to explore the characteristics of lava flows and how they change through the evolution of the flow. The temperature of a lava can provide a lot of information about its composition and what the properties of the subsurface are (temperature, pressure, structure at depth, etc.). In the poster, Laszlo uses modeling of different conditions to predict the composition of a lava from temperature measurement when using instruments similar to Io Observer or Io Volcano Observer and previous types of instruments.

Lori Pigue (Talk 1568 and Poster 2594): A Tale of Two Mozarts: Investigation of Lunar Pyroclastic Deposits near Lacus Mozart. Lori presents work on explosive eruptions on the Moon in this talk and poster, in the overall Montes Apenninus region and in a smaller region named Mozart. The Montes Apenninus region has 10 explosive volcanoes that were analyzed and found to have different characteristics that are being explored further. The Mozart region was one such volcano being explored further, and new explosive volcanic deposits were discovered in this region.

Amy Zink (Poster 2579): Improvements to Information Services in AstroLink. Astrogeology hosts one of the world’s Regional Planetary Information Facilities (RPIFs) and manages a wide variety of historical documents, photographs, and maps. Part of making repository materials available is Astro’s facility AstroLink. This poster presentation updates the community on the AstroLink facility’s ongoing efforts to digitize and make publicly available these unique historical materials.


Presentations on which USGS authors collaborated:

Patrick J. Gasda (with Ryan Anderson), Poster 1272 (is available March 18, 9-11am CDT): A Multivariate Manganese Calibration Model for ChemCam

Alfred McEwen (with Laszlo Kestay), Poster 1352: The Io Volcano Observer (IVO)

Tristram Warren (with Kristen Bennett), Poster 1890: Investigating the Thermal Infrared Emission Phase Function of the Lunar Surface Using the Diviner Lunar Radiometer

E. Dehouck (with Kristen Bennett), Poster 1858: Leaving Glen Torridon: Bedrock Geochemistry Measured by ChemCam en Route to the Sulfate Unit of Gale Crater

Michelle E. Minitti (with Kristen Bennett), Poster : Rock Textures and Grain Sizes in the Glen Torridon Region (Gale crater, Mars) Observed by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and ChemCam