HOUSTON – Early science results from the Kaguya, Chandrayaan-1 and Chang’e-1 lunar missions and the Venus Express spacecraft will highlight the 40th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference March 23-27 in Houston.

The conference will include presentations on the latest findings from these missions and special sessions on the icy satellites of Jupiter and Saturn and the MESSENGER spacecraft’s two flybys of Mercury last year. Exciting new results from a variety of planetary science disciplines also will be presented. Leading scientists from around the world will attend to discuss these and other topics 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:


Data from recent missions continue to offer space scientists worldwide new information and imagery to study. The major objectives of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kaguya mission, launched Sept. 14, 2007, are to gather scientific data on lunar origin and evolution and to develop technology for future lunar exploration. The Chinese National Space Administration’s Chang’e-1 was launched Oct. 24, 2007. Its goal is to make three-dimensional images of the many lunar landforms and outline maps of major lunar geological structures.

The two-year mission of Chandrayaan-1, launched last October by the Indian Space Research Organization, is to map the lunar surface and investigate its properties.

The European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft has observed an eerie glow in the nighttime atmosphere of Venus. This imagery is showing scientists that the atmosphere of Earth’s nearest neighbor is a place of high winds and turbulence. The spacecraft was launched Nov. 9, 2005, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

“This conference provides an exciting opportunity for planetary scientists to meet and discuss basic research of planetary bodies and science results from missions,” said Eileen Stansbery, director of the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “The results presented here show our increased understanding of our solar system and the bodies of which it is made as well as the limits of that understanding, new questions to answer and the opportunities for the future.”

The conference is presented by the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI). 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 100 leading research universities. For more information about LPI, visit:


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