OPAG comes to Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Artist’s rendition of the Dawn spacecraft approaching Ceres.  Original image can be found here.

I’m excited to be hosting the fall meeting of NASA’s Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) here at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in September.  For planetary scientists at UCSD, SDSU, USD, and other institutions in the greater San Diego area, if you’ve never attended the OPAG meeting here’s your chance!  The meeting will be September 6 and 7 at the Samual H. Scripps Auditorium.  More details can be found here.

What are assessment groups, and what is OPAG specifically?  The assessment groups are an excellent NASA innovation to encourage dialogue within the scientific community, and between the scientific community and NASA HQ.  There’s usually a little tense dialogue – in a good way – between these two ends of the scientific spectrum.  I often wish NSF had a similar open-format dialogue with its user community!  The form of the OPAG meeting is 15 or 30 minute presentations on a range of topics relevant to the community.  These are often mission updates, planning updates for future missions, and preliminary results from the analysis of mission data.  NASA has quite a few assessment groups, ranging from the Small Body Assessment Group (SBAG – probably the AG with the catchiest acronym) to the Mars Assessment Group (MPAG).  OPAG covers everything in the solar system further from the sun than Mars.  If that covers your favorite planetary body, come and check it out!

It’s traditional to have a public evening lecture with the OPAG meeting.  For the upcoming meeting the lecture will be given at 7 pm on September 6 at the Samuel Scripps Auditorium by my friend and colleague Britney Schmidt, a planetary scientist from Georgia Tech and an expert on Europa and on Antarctic ice sheets.  Why and how one can develop that dual expertise will certainly be made clear in her talk.  There is no cost to attend, but an RSVP is recommended.  You can find more details and RSVP here.

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