LPSA Info:

The Lunar and Planetary Science Academy (LPSA) is a highly selective, intensive ten-week summer internship program that focuses on individual research in the field of Planetary Science, leadership and networking. NASA LPSA was founded in 2009 by Dr. Cynthia Cheung and Mr. David Rossage.

Approximately twenty interns from all over the United States gather in Maryland to conduct independent research supervised by a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientist. They range from recent graduates of high school to first and second year graduate students. While doing their own research the interns attend talks with leading scientists in the relevant fields both at NASA Goddard and in the sorority houses in which they resided.

During the summer experience, the interns take a trip to an area of geologic interest to conduct in situ research supervised by several NASA scientists. This is seen as a chance for the interns to gain real world experience as a field geologist and also to understand the importance Earth Analogues as they relate to Planetary Science.

During their time at NASA LPSA, the interns are able to interface with internationally renowned scientists and they also improve their presentation skills through regular status reports, poster presentations and a final presentation.

Racetrack Playa

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2011 LPSA Open for Application

Deadline for 2011 LPSA applications: January 18, 2011 (5 pm EST)

Apply at: https://academyapp.com

Check out new website for LPSA.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thoughts on Death Valley

From Dan Burger:

It has been nearly a week since we came back from Death Valley and the experience has still left an impression on me. While we were on the trip, we observed and collected measurements on the sliding rocks in the Racetrack Playa and Bonnie Claire Playa. We also got to see many of the tourist attractions in the area, including Ubehebe Crater, Rhyolite (an abandoned mining town), Furnace Creek, and Badwater Basin (the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere).

For me the best part of the trip was being in the middle of nowhere with only the sound of the wind blowing across the desert - and being able to see for miles! It was an experience that I will never forget.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh, what wonders we've seen!

Death Valley and the Racetrack Playa made for a great trip! Honestly, I loved being able to be out there on the playa, surrounded by a mystery that nobody for sure had the answers to, which allowed me to continuously ask myself and others questions, be creative in my thinking, and explore a variety of different options as to how and why the rocks are moving. To have that freedom to think and explore options really helped me to recognize that the work I was doing was significant, and that any and all progress made on the mystery was going to remain as progress that future researchers would continue to base their ideas and theories on. It was like I returned to those early years in life, where the ultimate question for everything is "why?", and everything around me had so much knowledge and information to yield. (Granted, I'm sure that rolling around in the dirt, playing in the mud, and climbing on rocks all contributed to feeling like a little kid again! Actually, I'm not sure how much I've grown....) :)

The Racetrack Playa only made up one day of this great trip. Bonnie Claire was also a great place to visit. It's here that we were able to dig holes and experiment with water and mud. Both of these days provided us with exceptionally good weather, not being too hot out. I loved being able to continue to ask questions at Bonnie Claire, but also be able to do some hands-on discovery to seek some answers and explanations for the marvels we saw. Both the experiences at Racetrack Playa and at Bonnie Claire helped me to recognize that there is still so much around us every day that we have yet to explore, yet to understand, and it is truly an exciting thing to be able to go out there and freely seek the right questions that will lead us to astonishing answers.

Throughout the trip, by visiting these playas as well as the Ubehebe Crater, salt flats, etc., we got a great experience in seeing a small sample of the wonders our world has to provide. It was definitely a great experience!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Desert memories; Emma McKinney

How can you possibly ask me to describe such an experience? Well, poorly and with too much detail.

The Racetrack Playa trip can only be remembered with reverence for its beauty and mystery. We may not have definitively solved the mystery, but we did piece together some of it. Hopefully with more testing, we can be more concrete in our hypothesis.

So, let us talk about the desert. Imagine this. You're alone, in the best, most rich possible way. Around you is hot white cracked clay in all directions (you're spinning to take it in). Mountains are beyond the clay, but they are like the backdrop to an old western. You stop spinning, and the wind dies down. No one speaks because they are a what-seems-to-be-a-million-miles-away-distance from you. Since your ears no longer need to function as much, your eyes work twice as hard to take in the stark, flat, beautiful, bright craziness of the playa. It's the flattest piece of land you've ever seen, and it seems to end only a few hundred feet from you. At the same time it seems to go on forever.

Now that you know what it's like, let's get down to work. The walkie-talkie on your hip goes off, and of course there's too much static to make out anything substantial. Only "...rocks...Group B..you? Over." But at least it serves as a reminder that you're supposed to be measuring and taking pictures of and studying and crouching by and picking up and putting down and taking readings near and paying attention to these moving rocks and not the gosh darn scenery. So you do that. For science!

And the people you do it with? Well, they're the most amazing people possible. Full of questions, jokes, and knowledge. Thank you all, mentors, drivers, and friends.


So basically, this trip was completely amazing -- there's not a thing I'd change, except to either make days be more than 24 hours or make the trip longer so we'd have had more time. In any case, picking out a favorite moment is not a particularly easy task, but I'd have to say that watching the International Spacestation cross the night sky while laying on the roof of one of our SUVs in the middle of nowhere in the mountains above a ghost town is going to particularly stick in my mind. Stargazing is one of my absolute favorite things to do, and I really love the feeling of being totally removed from everything, out in the heart of the wilderness, just getting to absorb the niceness of it all. The ISS was incredibly bright as it orbited above us, and I love thinking what it would be like to be one of those people 200 something miles up, just watching the world below. The moon was also nearly full, which somewhat dampened the visible stars (I miss the Milky Way...), but even so, the sky was beautiful, the night air was warm (and dry!!), the company was great, and it was a wonderful end to a (very busy) day.