Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WEaT: The Sequel

One of Cassini's most spectacular images of Saturn echoes Voyager's "Pale Blue Dot Image." If you look closely, you'll see the Earth as a mote caught in a sunbeam within the rings in the upper left hand side. I ended my talks with this slide.

First of all, I'd like to thank my great audiences for my "Worlds Enough and Time" talk chronicling "The past 50 Years of Robotic Planetary Exploration." I've now presented the talk at RASC-Toronto, RASC-Mississauga and, most recently, last week at RASC-London. It has been a pleasure to speak with you all and to answer your insightful questions. I have to thank each centre for being very accommodating to my schedule. However, with the new Planetary Decadal Survey (TM) due out in a few weeks at LPSC I feel that the time has come to retire WEaT in its current form.

But do not despair! The planetary community will be briefed on the new Decadal Survey, and your intrepid planetary scientist will be there. Unlike previous surveys which have stopped at making ranked recommendations about specific targets for exploration, this survey is said to include concrete feasibility analysis of actual mission concepts and projections of NASA funding. This suggests that it is possible that this survey actually lists many of the missions which will be attempted between now and 2021.

Thus, you can expect a much updated version of the talk focusing on what we hope to do in the next ten years in Planetary Science. I can only hope that this talk is as effective as WEaT has been. I'll premiere it at this year's Star Symposium on March 18, at Vari Hall, York University. As to what to name it? Well, I'm taking suggestions on that one! For those interested in mining Andrew Marvell's "To his coy mistress" more fully, here's a link to the text.

Also, for those fans of Astronomy.fm's "Live at York U," I hope to do much the same with LPSC as I did with DPS last year. This week I will be sending out interview requests and will try to put together a series of interviews to air starting in late March or early April.

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