This year’s conference will feature the following special sessions:
Initial Results from the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Mission
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, the first mission in a multi-mission campaign to return Mars samples back to Earth, is anticipated to land in Jezero crater on February 18, 2021. Jezero crater hosts an ancient open-system lake environment in which clay- and carbonate-bearing fluvio-lacustrine deposits, potential volcanic rocks, and post-depositional subsurface habitats are key exploration and sampling targets. This session will cover initial scientific results from the first month of operations of the Perseverance rover on Mars. Talks will review the geologic setting of Perseverance’s landing site observed from orbiter data and in situ images and radar data, as well as initial geochemical, mineralogic, and atmospheric results.
Fulfilling Apollo Goals and Preparing for Artemis: New ANGSA Results from Special Apollo Samples
Special samples returned during Apollo have been stored under unique conditions. These samples include a soil core sealed on the lunar surface in a Core Sample Vacuum Container (CSVC) and frozen samples. The Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis (ANGSA) initiative simulates a new and inexpensive lunar sample-return mission that fulfills some of the goals of Apollo and offers new perspectives on lunar volatile reservoirs and processes shaping the Moon. The results of this initiative will provide a fundamental reference point for Artemis with respect to the collection, curation, and analysis of volatile-bearing lunar samples. The ANGSA teams will report new information from these samples, including geologic context; Preliminary Examination Team results; stratigraphy and dynamics of lunar landslide deposits; and mineralogy, geochemistry, chronology, organic, and stable isotopic data.
Scientific Exploration of the Lunar South Pole
Scientific studies of the lunar south polar environment are being pursued at a frenzied pace to provide information for robotic missions starting in 2021 and human missions in 2024. The purpose of this special session is to capture those fast-paced research results in terms of remote sensing, modeling, and sample analysis; disperse them to the community; and spark additional scientific studies that have the benefit of ensuring the best science is accomplished when surface operations commence.
The Next Two Decades of Ocean Worlds Exploration
Ocean Worlds have emerged as a priority class of targets in planetary science and astrobiology. The Galileo and Cassini missions provided the first observations indicating oceans beyond Earth. This perspective was broadened by the Dawn and New Horizons missions to Ceres and Pluto, respectively. Today, NASA is planning the Flagship-class Clipper mission to Europa and New Frontiers-class Dragonfly mission to Titan, while ESA is planning the L-class JUICE mission to Jupiter’s ocean worlds. Future in situ exploration may target icy surfaces, planetary oceans, plume samples, and exotic traverses. This session will cover the next two decades of Ocean Worlds exploration, highlighting planned, proposed, and potential future science investigations, mission concepts, instruments, and technologies.