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February 25, 2011
RELEASE J11-005
Icy Insights Into Mars, Hayabusa Results Hightlight Conference

HOUSTON – Studies of ice processes on Mars and early science results from a Japanese mission to an asteroid will highlight the 42nd annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference March 7-11 in Houston.

The conference will include presentations on these topics and special sessions on observations of last year's flyby of comet Hartley 2 and research on the effects that volatile species such as water and carbon dioxide have on the formation of planets. The Planetary Decadal Survey Briefing also will be presented. The conference will be held at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in The Woodlands, Texas.

Media may register to attend. For LPSC press information including links to the program, media advisories and contact information, visit:

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2011/

"The research presented at this conference illustrates the breadth and depth of our increasing understanding of the bodies, processes and events making up our solar system," said Eileen Stansbery, director of the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate at NASA's Johnson Space Center. "Planetary scientists use this forum to discuss directions for future mission concepts and fields of inquiry to answer new questions uncovered by current research."

Recent results describing evidence for water in the solar system and incorporation into primitive bodies are providing new insights into the evolution of our solar system. Three special sessions will focus on ice processes of terrestrial bodies including Mars, Earth and the icy moons of the outer solar system.

On June 13, 2010, the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft ended its dramatic seven-year mission, returning a tiny capsule containing particles from asteroid Itokawa. It was the first mission ever to return a sample of material snatched from the surface of a world beyond the moon. Examination of the particles began in January of this year, and researchers will reveal results of their initial analyses.

NASA's Deep Impact space probe conducted an extended flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4, 2010. The flyby provided a wealth of data for studies of a cometary nucleus. Members of the science team and other collaborators who observed the flyby will present findings.

Volatile species, such as water and carbon dioxide, and nonmetal elements dissolved in magmas have many critical effects on the formation and evolution of terrestrial planetary mantles and crusts. Magmas are mixtures of molten rock, volatiles and solids. A special session will explore contributions from analytical, theoretical and experimental research on a range of topics involving volatiles in planetary interiors and crusts.

The Planetary Decadal Survey Briefing will be held at 5:30 p.m. CST March 7. The featured speaker will be Steve Squyres, chair of the 2013 Planetary Decadal Survey.

The conference is presented by the Lunar and Planetary Institute. LPI is managed by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), a national, nonprofit consortium of universities chartered in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences at the request of NASA. USRA operates programs and institutes focused on research and education in most of the disciplines engaged in space-related science and engineering. Institutional membership in USRA now stands at 105 leading research universities. For more information about LPI, visit:

http://www.lpi.usra.edu

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

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William Jeffs
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111

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