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Press Kit, 49th DPS Meeting, Provo, Utah, 15-20 Oct. 2017

11 October 2017 (updated 19 October 2017)

Shantanu Naidu / Rick Fienberg
DPS Press Officer / AAS Press Officer
+1 917-373-8840 / +1 857-891-5649


The Cassini spacecraft may have met its fiery end, but its discoveries continue and will be among the highlights presented at four daily press conferences at the 49th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS). Also featured in briefings will be exciting news about asteroids, moons, and planets — dwarf and otherwise. The meeting takes place at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo from Sunday, 15 October, through Friday, 20 October 2017. About 800 planetary scientists, astronomers, educators, and journalists from the US and around the world are expected to attend to discuss new findings about our solar system and extrasolar planetary systems.

The AAS/DPS offers complimentary press registration to journalists and public-information officers (PIOs); see details below. Meeting hashtag: #dps17 (not #dps49 as reported earlier); you may also wish to follow @DPSMeeting, @DPSCommittee, and @AAS_Press on Twitter.

Meeting links (see also the menu at left):

Important Preliminaries

All attendees at the meeting — including press registrants — are expected to follow our Guide to AAS Meeting Etiquette and Anti-Harassment Policy for AAS & Division Meetings & Activities. Your participation in the meeting is taken to signify your acknowledgment that you have read these guidelines/policies and your agreement to adhere to them. Accordingly, please read them before you come to Provo and abide by them once you arrive.

AAS Meeting App & Guide

Our “Meetings by AAS” mobile app puts the entire conference program in your pocket and ensures that it’s always up to date. If you’re tired of carrying around a bulky program book, you’ll really appreciate having this app on your smartphone or tablet.

Meetings by AAS works on iOS and Android devices. Users of Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices, as well as users of laptop computers, can access the app via a Web browser.

Follow these steps to download the app for your iOS or Android device; if you already have the Meetings by AAS app on your mobile device, launch it and go straight to step 4:
  1. On your smartphone or tablet, visit the Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) and search for Meetings by AAS.
  2. Alternatively, use your QR reader to scan the QR code at right.
  3. Download, install, and open the app.
  4. iOS users: enter "dps" into the "Find a guide..." search box; Android users: tap the downward-facing arrow to browse guides. Select the 49th Annual DPS Meeting guide.
  5. Alternatively, go to and follow the instructions you find there.

Press Registration & Badge Pickup

The AAS/DPS offers complimentary press registration to bona fide working journalists and PIOs, as described on our press-credentials page.

Advance press registration is now closed; see our list of current press registrants. Upon arrival at the Utah Valley Convention Center, preregistered press should proceed to the AAS/DPS registration area in the East Pre-function Foyer on Level 1. Badges won't be available before 1 pm MDT on Sunday, 15 October; please try to pick up your badge before the DPS Opening Reception (see below).

Reporters and PIOs who need to register on-site in Provo should go straight to the AAS/DPS registration desk at the Utah Valley Convention Center and ask for a press-registration form. You'll be asked to take it to the press office (Silver Creek Room, Level 3) to have the form authorized by one of the AAS or DPS press officers, after which you may return to the registration desk to print your badge.

Press Facilities

A press office will be set up in the Silver Creek Room on Level 3 of the Utah Valley Convention Center and will be open to journalists during normal conference hours. Among other amenities, it will offer workspace, internet connectivity, and a printer. Thanks to Universities Space Research Association (USRA) for generously sponsoring the press office and providing refreshments to on-site press registrants!

Press office staff:

We won’t have a dedicated interview room for use by press registrants, but the Soldier Creek Room (see next section) will be available for media interviews except during the daily lunch break, when briefings are in progress.

Press-Conference Schedule, Topics & Speakers

News briefings for the media will be conducted daily Monday-Thursday, 16-19 October, during the midday lunch break, in the Soldier Creek Room (also on Level 3), which will be equipped with a sound system, mult-box, and wireless internet connectivity. Note that lunch is from 12:00 to 1:30 pm or 2:00 pm MDT (UTC - 6h). The briefings themselves will begin at 12:15 pm MDT; each will last about 1 hour. There is no press conference on Friday.

Following is the press-conference program, which remains subject to change. In [square brackets] under each speaker’s name is the session or paper number on which their presentation is based, where applicable; these now link to the abstract in the Web version of the meeting app.

All findings are embargoed until the time of presentation at the meeting. “Time of presentation” means the start time of the oral or poster session in which the paper will be given, or the start time of the corresponding press conference (if any), whichever comes first. Please review the complete AAS/DPS embargo policy before coming to Provo.

Note: All new discoveries are subject to confirmation by independent teams of scientists. Inclusion here does not imply endorsement by the American Astronomical Society or the Division for Planetary Sciences. The AAS and DPS do not endorse individual scientific results.

Note added 17 Oct. 2017: Presentation titles now link to the speakers' presentation files (PDF or PPT). These files are provided for personal use only. If you wish to publish or otherwise reproduce any of the content in these files, you must obtain permission from the presenters.

Monday, 16 October 2017, 12:15 pm MDT

Science Highlights from Cassini’s Grand Finale Part I | Part II

    • Linda Spilker (Jet Propulsion Lab)
    • Michele Dougherty (Imperial College London, UK)
    • Mark E. Perry (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab)
    • Matthew Tiscareno (SETI Institute)

[Based on plenary talks 108.01, 108.02, 108.03, poster 212.10, and other presentations]

JPL Press Release | Cornell Press Release

Tuesday, 17 October 2017, 12:15 pm MDT

Ground-based Characterization of Earth Quasi-Satellite 2016 HO3
Vishnu Reddy (University of Arizona)
[204.07] UA Press Release | LBT Press Release

The Population of Near-Earth Asteroids Revisited
Alan Harris (MoreData!)
[100.01] Press Release

The Dynamical Stability of Outer Solar System Objects in the Presence of Planet Nine
Juliette Becker (University of Michigan)
[405.07] Press Release

Wednesday, 18 October 2017, 12:15 pm MDT

Population Control of Martian Trojans by the Yarkovsky & YORP Effects
Apostolos Christou (Armagh Observatory, UK)
[302.05] Press Release

On the Origin of the Organic-Rich Material on Ceres
Simone Marchi (Southwest Research Institute)
[306.02] Press Release

Titan’s High Altitude South Polar Stratospheric Ice Cloud Observed by Cassini
Carrie Anderson (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
[304.10] Press Release

Jet Morphology and the Rapidly Changing Rotation Period of Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak
David Schleicher (Lowell Observatory)
[305.07] Press Release

Thursday, 19 October 2017, 12:15 pm MDT

Tracing the Near-Earth-Object Size Distribution with Lunar Impact Flashes
Chrysa Avdellidou (European Space Agency)
[204.08] Press Release

The Complex Magnetic Field of the Martian Magnetotail Observed by MAVEN
Gina DiBraccio (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
[505.02] Press Release

Narrow Circumstellar Debris Rings in Young Systems:
Evidence for Planetary Formation from Multiple Subcores?
Casey Lisse (Johns Hopkins University)
[500.01] Press Release

An Answer to Fermi's Paradox In the Prevalence of Ocean Worlds?
Alan Stern (Southwest Research Institute)

Remote Access to Press Conferences

Journalists unable to attend the meeting in person may tune in to our briefings and the seminar for science writers streamed live on the Web. Since the webcast includes audio, video, and PowerPoint slides, you must have a broadband (high-speed) Internet connection to watch and listen. Also, your Web browser must have the free Adobe Flash plug-in.

The webcast also includes a chat window whereby remote participants may ask questions. We can’t guarantee that all questions received from webcast viewers will be asked aloud — it depends on how much time we have and how many questions we’re getting from onsite reporters.

Press Conference Webcasts:


  • Password: Contact AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg for the password, which is for journalists only and which is the same for all the week's briefings. After the meeting, archived webcasts will be freely available without a password via our online archive.
  • Once the webcast window opens, press the Play (►) button.
  • Press the Open Chat Window button. You’ll be asked to enter your name; please use your real first and last names, not a cutesy internet nickname.
  • You can resize the chat window and move it to any convenient position on your screen.
  • To ask a question, type it into the input box near the bottom of the chat window and click the Send button.

Prize Lectures & Invited Talks

In addition to daily oral and poster sessions, the meeting features plenary talks from distinguished planetary scientists. These occur on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons (16, 17, and 18 October, respectively) in Grand Ballroom C on Level 2 of the convention center. Lecturers include Michele Dougherty (Imperial College London), Linda Spilker (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and Matthew Tiscareno (SETI Institute) on the Cassini mission to Saturn; Thomas Greathouse (Southwest Research Institute), Tristan Guillot (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, France), Candice Hansen (Planetary Science Institute), and Andrew Ingersoll (Caltech) on the Juno mission to Jupiter; David Brain (University of Colorado, Boulder) on MAVEN at Mars; Sarah Hörst (Johns Hopkins University) on the chemistry of Titan; William Smith (University of Utah) on racial microaggression in science and engineering; and Amaury Triaud (University of Cambridge, UK) on the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanetary system.

Two of this year’s DPS award winners will give prize talks during the plenary sessions. On Wednesday Margaret Kivelson (University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Michigan), recipient of the Gerard P. Kuiper Prize, will discuss her work studying Jupiter’s magnetospheric plasmas to understand the interiors of planets and their moons. Bethany Ehlmann (Caltech), recipient of the Harold C. Urey Prize, will speak on Thursday about her work using spectroscopy to determine the mineralogy of Mars’s surface and the extent of the red planet’s previous habitability.

Opening & Closing Receptions

The opening reception welcomes all attendees and registered guests; food will be provided, and there will be a cash bar.

Sunday, 15 October, 6:30 to 8:00 pm
DPS Opening Reception
Timpanogos Terrace (Level 3)

Friday, 20 October, 3:45 to 4:30 pm
Ice Cream Social (DPS Closing Reception)
Location TBD

If you plan to attend the ice cream social, please fill out the Doodle poll to help make sure we order the right amount of ice cream.

Other Events of Interest

Monday, 16 October, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Film Screening: "The Farthest: Voyager in Space”
Grand Ballroom C (Level 2)
The PBS documentary "The Farthest" tells the captivating tales of the people and events behind one of humankind's greatest achievements in exploration: NASA's Voyager mission, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this past August. The twin spacecraft — each with less computing power than a cell phone — used slingshot trajectories to visit Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, sending back unprecedented images and data that revolutionized our understanding of the outer planets and their many peculiar moons. Both spacecraft are still going strong four decades after launch. Watch the trailer.

Tuesday, 17 October, 7:00 to 10:00 pm
Sagan Medal Public Talks & Star Party
Brigham Young University
The winners of the DPS's 2017 Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public, Megan Schwamb (Gemini Observatory) and Henry Throop (Planetary Science Institute), will, appropriately, give public talks to which the citizens of Provo are invited. These will be held on the BYU campus in Benson Building Room W112, followed by telescopic viewing (weather permitting) at the Eyring Science Center under the supervision of the BYU Astronomy Club. Schwamb's talk is entitled "Exploring Mars with 150,000 Earthlings," while Throop's is "One Sky: Astronomy Outreach Across the Developing World."

Wednesday, 18 October, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
DPS Banquet ($91/person)
Sundance Mountain Resort
The conference banquet will be held at the Sundance Mountain Resort, Robert Redford's property at the base of Mount Timpanogos, approximately 15 miles from downtown Provo. The buffet menu includes fish, meat, and gluten-free vegetarian. If you want the vegetarian option, say so when signing up, which you must do by Sunday, 15 October, when you pick up your badge. Buses will depart from the convention center's west entrance at 6:00 pm to transport attendees to the resort and will begin departures at 9:00 pm to return to the Provo Marriott.

Thursday, 19 October, 10:15 am to 12 noon; 1:15 to 3:00 pm
Student Education & Outreach Event
Exhibit Hall (Level 1)
Middle- and high-school students from the Provo area will come to the DPS meeting with teacher and parent chaperones. They'll visit the Exhibit Hall to engage in hands-on educational activities supervised by attending astronomers and planetary scientists. The event, which makes a great "photo opp," is sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

AAS Press-Release-Distribution Service

If you don't already receive astronomy-related press releases forwarded by email from the AAS Press Office, you should sign up now to guarantee that you receive future meeting advisories as well as electronic copies of all press releases issued during the meeting. To sign up for the AAS press-release-distribution service, for which there is no charge, please fill out and submit our sign-up form. Only accredited journalists and public-information officers are eligible to receive press releases forwarded by the AAS, as described on our press-credentials page.