Studies of samples from a comet, a landing on an asteroid and a deliberate comet crash highlight the 37th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference March 13-17 in Houston.

The conference will include presentations on the latest findings from these missions, as well as an update on findings from NASA’s Genesis spacecraft that returned to Earth in 2004 with particles from the solar wind. Leading scientists from around the world will attend to discuss these and other topics at the South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center.

Media may register to attend. For registration information and a complete list of conference events, visit:

The past year has seen a string of space science firsts: samples from comet Wild 2 returned to Earth by NASA’s Stardust spacecraft; a deliberate crash on comet Tempel 1 by NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft; and a landing on asteroid Itokawa by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa spacecraft.

"This is an exciting time for planetary scientists. New information from missions such as Deep Impact, Hayabusa, Stardust, Genesis and the Mars Exploration Rovers complement continuing discoveries in the planetary science research disciplines," said Eileen Stansbery, deputy director of the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

"This year’s conference provides much insight into the way the scientific community pulls diverse research disciplines and missions together to provide a framework for understanding our solar system and the bodies of which it is made."

The conference schedule includes:

— "Stardust: Mission Accomplished" kicks off this year’s program at 8:30 a.m. CST March 13. Stardust science team members will present results from the preliminary examinations of the comet samples. The returned comet particles may provide a new view of materials of the early solar system.

— Results of scientific analyses of the Genesis solar wind ions returned to Earth in October 2004 will be presented at 1:30 p.m. March 14.

— Results from the Deep Impact and Hayabusa missions will be presented during two special sessions. Deep Impact presentations are scheduled at 1:30 p.m. March 15. The Hayabusa session will be held at 8:30 a.m. March 17.

The conference is sponsored by NASA and the Lunar and Planetary Institute. For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: