07:08 AM

LPI Celebrates 40 Years of Lunar and Planetary Research

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) is kicking off its 40th anniversary with a new look and exciting events throughout the year.

As part of the celebration, the Institute has planned a suite of activities that will highlight the contributions of the LPI, NASA, and its many constituents to the field of lunar and planetary science.

One of the planned events will be a 40th Anniversary Seminar Series. Starting in January and running through the end of December, the series will feature special guest speakers who have played important roles in the advancement of the Institute, and will honor the world-class scientists who have graced our halls over the past 40 years. Some of the guest speakers include former directors Dr. Robert Pepin, Dr. James Head, and Dr. Roger Phillips; former staff scientists Dr. Paul Spudis, Dr. Renu Malhotra, Dr. Peter Schultz, and Dr. James Zimbelman; former visiting scientists Dr. G. Jeffrey Taylor and Dr. Christian Koeberl; and former intern Dr. Jonathan Lunine.

The LPI is also hosting a 40th Anniversary Banquet in March that will coincide with the date of President Lyndon B. Johnson's announcement of the establishment of the Institute. In continuing the celebration, this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) will recognize the Institute's 40th anniversary, especially timely in light of the renewed focus on lunar activities that will be highlighted during the week of the conference.

Other events will include the release of a special issue of the Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin (LPIB) that will focus on the Institute over the past four decades. Articles will include the history of the LPI and memories shared by those who have been impacted by the Institute. The LPI is also planning to unveil a new section of its website in the coming months. The new site will be a timeline highlighting many of the events that have taken place over the past four decades involving the Institute, NASA, and space exploration.

The LPI is pleased to celebrate this important milestone with the community as we look forward to NASA's return to the Moon.

In March 1968, during the era of the Apollo missions, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the establishment of the Institute during a speech at NASA's Manned Space Center (now Johnson Space Center). In October of that year, the Institute was formally established by NASA in contract with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and Dr. William W. Rubey was named the first Director. The following year, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) was chartered as the parent organization for the Institute. USRA initially concentrated on the management of the Institute but, armed with its broad charter, the Association soon began to expand and extend the ways it served the university space research community.

For 40 years, the LPI has provided, on NASA's behalf, leadership in the scientific community for research in lunar, planetary, and solar system sciences, and linkage with related terrestrial programs. Since NASA first set its sights on the Moon, the Institute has continued to support and serve the lunar and planetary science community as an international leader.

Over the years the LPI has continued to serve the lunar and planetary science community through its organization and sponsorship of a variety of seminars and conferences, such as the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, now in its 39th year. The LPI also manages a world-renowned summer intern program, which is celebrating its 32nd anniversary. Since 1977, the Institute has hosted 390 interns, many of whom are now well known throughout the lunar and planetary science community as leaders in their field.

The LPI is managed by 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 101 leading research universities. More information about USRA can be found at www.usra.edu.

The LPI focuses on academic participation in studies of the current state, evolution, and formation of the solar system. The Institute, located in Houston, Texas, is operated by USRA under Agreement No. NNX08AC28A issued through the Solar System Exploration Division of NASA. For more information, visit the LPI's website .