1 October 2015

DPS Workshop: NASA Planetary Science and Astrophysics Assets

Doris Daou, NASA Headquarters - Planetary Science Division

The Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters would like to draw your attention to a special workshop to be held during the 47th annual meeting of the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) in National Harbor, Maryland, next month. Called "NASA Planetary Science and Astrophysics Assets," it will be held all day Tuesday, 10 November 2015, in the Azalea 1 room at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. Here's the agenda and descriptions of some of the assets to be discussed. 

  • 8:00 am – 8:30 am — Welcome + announcements
  • 8:30 am – 9:00 am — PDS
  • 9:00 am – 10:30 am — K2
  • 10:30 am – 11:00 am — SOFIA
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm — Spitzer
  • 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm — Lunch break
  • 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm — HST + JWST
  • 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm — IRSA + NEOWISE
  • 2:15 pm – 4:15 pm — Keck
  • 4:15 pm – 4:45 pm — IRTF

The Planetary Data System (PDS) archives and distributes scientific data from NASA planetary missions, astronomical observations, and laboratory measurements. The PDS is sponsored by NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Its purpose is to ensure the long-term usability of NASA data and to stimulate advanced research. All PDS data are publicly available and may be exported outside of United States under "Technology and software Publicly Available" (TSPA) classification. This presentation will focus on the new DPS roadmap activity and invite the users to join the team in demonstration at the NASA-PDS booth.

HST and JWST are the leading present and near-term space-based observatories, and offer exceptional capabilities for solar system science. We will review current status and accomplishments of these missions, and present various science-policy aspects that are of interest for the DPS community.

The K2 mission makes used of the Kepler spacecraft and expands of its groundbreaking discoveries. The fields observed by K2 are close to the ecliptic planet and hence are thus rich in solar system objects including planets, asteroids and trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). K2 has already performed observations of Neptune and its large moon Triton, 68 Trojan and Hilda asteroids, 5 TNOs (including Pluto) and Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring). About thousands of main-belt asteroids that fell into the pixel masks of stars have been have been serendipitously observed. Uranus will be observed in a future campaign (C8), as will many more small solar system bodies. Observations of moving bodies as bright as Jupiter and as faint as V=23 have proved successful. K2 has an ongoing funded Guest Observer program and which has been successfully proposed to by members of the planetary science community. We present K2’s plans and capabilities for solar system science and will have presentations by members of the planetary science community who have used K2 data. This presentation contains information about the mission and its capabilities, discusses the proposal cycles and provides examples, and has community folks talking about their K2 science.

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy makes observations at far-infrared wavelengths possible. In particular, the range of wavelengths from 30-300 microns is nearly completely obscured form the ground, including our best mountaintop observatories. By flying in the stratosphere above 95% of atmospheric water vapor, access is opened to photometric, spectroscopic, and polarimetric observations of solar system targets including small bodies through the major planets. Extrasolar planetary systems can be observed through their debris disks, and forming planetary systems through the protoplanetary disks. We will brief the professional planetary science community on the capabilities of the observatory and its scientific instrumentation, the operation of the observatory, the proposal and planning process, and opportunities for involvement in the observatory itself.

The Spitzer Space Telescope is NASA’s infrared Great Observatory and can operate until the launch of JWST in 2018. 100% of the observing time on Spitzer is available through annual calls for proposals and Director’s Discretionary Time. The IRAC instrument provides unparalleled sensitivity at 3.6 and 4.5 microns that will only be superseded by JWST. For solar system observations Spitzer supports non-sidereal tracking rates of up to 1 arcsec per second, as well as the ability to do shadow observations for moving targets. Cycle-11 included more than 1000 hours of solar system observations studying the compositions of near-earth asteroids and comets, near-earth object characterization, and observations of Pluto in support of the New Horizons mission. We will present Spitzer’s capabilities, future plans, and some science results from previous and ongoing planetary programs.

The Infrared Science Archive (IRSA) is the repository for science products from NASA's infrared and submillimeter missions, including many large-area and all-sky surveys. IRSA's portion of the workshop will describe our tools and datasets of interest to the DPS community, including: how to get moving object observations out of the Spitzer and WISE archives, the WISE Co-Adder (which can sum up (NEO)WISE observations of moving targets), and the moving object "Pre-covery” tool. We will briefly cover other tools, such as FinderChart, and other archives at IRSA, such as the Herschel and Planck archives.

The two W. M. Keck Observatory 10-meter telescopes regularly observe the increasingly dynamic and diverse body of objects in our solar system. Every US member of the solar system community has the opportunity to apply for time on the Keck telescopes through NASA's call for proposals each March and September. Through this workshop, NASA and Keck Observatory seek to grow the Keck solar system observing community. We will present Keck's current and future instrument capabilities as well as recent solar system science highlights from high spatial and spectral resolution imaging and spectroscopy. Although much information has been gained through spectroscopy of planets, comets, and Kuiper belt objects, many current solar system observers also take advantage of the adaptive optics systems on both Keck 1 and Keck 2 to determine rotation axes and pinpoint orbits with high astrometric precision. Invited DPS members will share some of their recent Keck results pertaining to planetary atmospheres, comets, Pluto, and transneptunian objects. We will also provide information on how you can gain access to the NASA portion of Keck time, the only way that PIs from non Keck-member institutions can gain access, and highlight resources that are available for your use in the proposal planning process.

The NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) is a dedicated observatory for mission support and planetary science research, with 50% of the telescope time allocated to solar system observations. Instruments currently available include SpeX (a low to moderate spectral resolution 1-5 micron spectrograph and imager), CSHELL (a high-resolution 1-5 micron infrared spectrograph), MORIS (a CCD camera used in conjunction with SpeX), and visitor spectrographs covering 5-24 microns. For information, see http://irtfweb.ifa.hawaii.edu/Facility/. We plan to commission iSHELL, a new cross-dispersed, high-resolution spectrograph for 1-5 microns, during semester 2016A. We are also upgrading MIRSI, our 8-26 micron camera, and it should be available during 2017A. The IRTF offers remote observing from any site with adequate internet connection, flexible scheduling (time slots as short as one hour), and daytime observing. 

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has observed all the planets in our solar system, apart from Earth and Mercury. Earth is far better studied by geologists on the ground and specialized probes in orbit. Hubble can’t observe Mercury as it is too close to the Sun, whose brightness would damage the telescope’s sensitive instruments. In this presentation, we give an HST status and capabilities update with new APT features for solar system; followed by JWST/HST science policy presentation.