Mars and the Moon in the spotlight still

The Red Planet still has all the fans at the moment. Robert Lamb has been interviewing Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin on how he squares his proterraforming views with ethical concerns. On the Discovery website, he relegates himself to merely championing exploration and understanding of Mars as both an engineering base camp for solar system hopping and a scientific Rosetta stone for discerning the ability of life to develop in extreme and far removed conditions through an interview with SETI’s Dr Adrian Brown. SETI itself continues to be the source of articles for the Astronomy Now magazine as the search enters its sixth decade. In this article on METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) or Active SETI, the development of the capability to send out detectable signals, the present detectability of the planet and the ideological splits between mainstream SETI and Active SETI researchers are explored. Just don’t tell Stephen Hawking…

But Mars isn’t the only big rock out there of interest. The Moon has become sexy again, according to the BBC. Jonathan Amos, their Science Correspondent, is at the European Geoscience Union meeting in Vienna. In the article, he lists the present wave of probes presently going around the Moon and mentions the plans for a polar lander, aimed for a Peak of Eternal Light (place where the terrain is such it spends most of the time bathed in sunlight) to allow Europe’s solar panel reliant probes to work where previously battery powered vehicles had gone before.

For those not in Vienna, there are other chances to get to a lunar science session. In London at Burlington House, the Royal Astronomical Society will hold a meeting on “Astrobiology on the Moon”, poster here, programme here. It will be on Friday, 14th of May and anyone can go subject to the £15 (£5 for students) entrance fee. Alternatively, there is the European Planetary Science Congress in Rome, September 19-25 2010. Two sessions of interest to Lunar people are “Lunar Science and Exploration: Current status and outlook” and the outreach session “Lunar Outreach as a tool for Public Engagement in Planetary Sciences“, to which all may attend (subject to fees, getting there etc).

Of course, these aren’t the only conferences going on at the moment, or planned to go on soon. The Space Telescope Science Institute is presently hosting its May Symposium on Stellar Populations in the Cosmological Context. A roundup of the first day’s activities is here (including webcasts to some of the talks mentioned). Meanwhile, the UK Conference of Science Journalists is to be held on Friday 23rd of July at the Royal Society.

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