Masursky Lecture

Biography of Bruce Banerdt

Dr. Bruce Banerdt

Dr. Bruce Banerdt is a planetary geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He holds a B.S. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Southern California and has worked in the Earth and Space Sciences Division of JPL since 1977. Banerdt has served on numerous NASA, National Academy of Sciences, and DLR (German space agency) advisory panels on planetary and space science and has published more than 140 journal articles, reports, and book chapters. His research focuses on the geological history of the planet Mars and geophysical investigations of the interiors of terrestrial planets using analyses of gravity, magnetic, topographic, and seismic data. In addition to a staggering number of unselected planetary instrument and mission proposals, he has participated in several planetary flight instrument teams, including the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on Mars Global Surveyor and the Imaging Radar on Magellan. He served as Project Scientist for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers for six years before heading up the successful NASA Discovery Program proposal for the InSight mission. He has been Principal Investigator for InSight since 2011.

History of the Masursky Lecture

During his 20-year career in planetary science, Harold Masursky (1923–1990) was a world-renowned pioneer in space exploration. He applied his many talents to the fields of economic, structural, and planetary geology. In the 1960s he played a major role in the choice of Apollo landing sites. In the 1970s, he headed the scientific team that first mapped the planet Mars, and he was actively involved in the selection of the Viking landing sites. Through the 1980s, he was a key figure in Voyager Project. His work has resulted in over 200 publications. One of his major contributions was as president of the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union. He was the recipient of many honors from NASA, USGS, and other scientific organizations. His contributions to planetary geology, to the design of spacecraft instruments, and to international scientific cooperation will long be remembered. As a tribute to his work, the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) organizers decided to incorporate into the annual program a lecture series in his honor. The first of these lectures was held at the 23rd LPSC in 1992.

Past Lecturers

  • March 7, 2022 (53rd LPSC)
    Martha S. Gilmore, Wesleyan University
    “To Venus and Back Again”
  • March 15, 2021 (52nd LPSC)*
    John Grotzinger, California Institute of Technology
    “The Early Aqueous Environment of Mars Inferred from Mission Lifetime Results by the Curiosity Rover at Gale Crater”
    *Rescheduled from 2020
  • March 16, 2020 (51st LPSC)*
    John Grotzinger, California Institute of Technology
    “The Early Aqueous Environment of Mars Inferred from Mission Lifetime Results by the Curiosity Rover at Gale Crater”
    *Due to concerns about COVID-19, the 2020 conference was canceled, so the Masursky Lecture did not take place.
  • March 18, 2019 (50th LPSC)
    Harrison H. Schmitt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    “Apollo 17 Lunar Science and Lunar Policy”
  • March 19, 2018 (49th LPSC)
    Linda Spilker, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    “Cassini’s Amazing Discoveries”
  • March 20, 2017 (48th LPSC)
    David E. Smith, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    “Planetary Topography from Laser Altimetry”
  • March 21, 2016 (47th LPSC)
    S. Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute
    “New Horizons: The Exploration of the Pluto System and the Kuiper Belt Beyond”
  • March 16, 2015 (46th LPSC)
    Lars Borg, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
    “Insights into the Evolution of the Solar System from Isotopic Investigations of Samples”
  • March 17, 2014 (45th LPSC)
    Col. David R. Scott, USAF (Retired)
    “Masursky’s Moon and the Science of Apollo 15”
  • March 18, 2013 (44th LPSC)
    Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Carnegie Institution for Science
    “On Building an Earth-Like Planet”
  • March 19, 2012 (43rd LPSC)
    James W. Head III, Brown University
    “Mars Climate History: A Geological Perspective”
  • March 7, 2011 (42nd LPSC)
    Robin Canup, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder
    “Formation of Planetary Satellites”
  • March 1, 2010 (41st LPSC)
    Ronald Greeley, Arizona State University
    “Shifting Sands: Planetary Atmosphere-Surface Interactions”
  • March 23, 2009 (40th LPSC)
    Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder
    “Planet Categorization and Planetary Science: Coming of Age in the 21st Century”
  • March 10, 2008 (39th LPSC)
    Robert O. Pepin, University of Minnesota
    “The First Look at Stardust’s Comet Cargo”
  • March 12, 2007 (38th LPSC)
    Margaret Kivelson, University of California, Los Angeles
    “Magnetized Plasmas as Probes of the Atmospheres, Surfaces, and Interiors of the Outer Planets”
  • March 13, 2006 (37th LPSC)
    Jonathan I. Lunine, University of Arizona
    “Beyond the Asteroid Belt: What do Do Next in the Outer Solar System, and Why?”
  • March 14, 2005 (36th LPSC)
    Captain John Young, Astronaut
    “The Future of Human Space Exploration and Why?”
  • March 15, 2004 (35th LPSC)
    S. Ross Taylor, Australian National University
    “Planetary Science: A New Discipline?”
  • March 17, 2003 (34th LPSC)
    Peter Goldreich, Princeton University/California Institute of Technology
    “Kuiper Belt Binaries: A New Window on Runaway Accretion”
  • 2002 (33rd LPSC)
    No Masursky Lecture; this was the year that Joe Boyce retired from NASA Headquarters, and his contributions were recognized during the plenary session
  • March 13, 2001 (32nd LPSC)
    Sean C. Solomon, Carnegie Institution of Washington
    “The Harold Masursky Lecture: An Earth in Moon’s Clothing?, or Mercury as an Object Lesson on Approaches to Planetary Exploration”
  • March 13, 2000 (31st LPSC)
    John A. Wood, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    “Chondrites: Tight-Lipped Witnesses to the Beginning”
  • March 15, 1999 (30th LPSC)
    Michael J. S. Belton, National Optical Astronomy Observatories
    “Galileo: Mission of a Lifetime”
    Carolyn C. Porco, University of Arizona
    “The Summer of ’04: Cassini’s Exploration and the Saturn System”
  • March 16, 1998 (29th LPSC)
    Michael Carr, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park
    “Mars: Aquifers, Oceans, and the Prospects for Life”
    Matthew G. Golombek, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    “Mars Pathfinder Mission and Science Results”
  • March 19, 1997 (28th LPSC)
    William A. Cassidy, University of Pittsburgh
    “Masursky Lecture: Retrospective on the U.S. Antarctic Meteorite Program, Or: Fun and Games with Antarctic Meteorites, Or: Frozen Toes and Frozen Meteorites”
    Robert O. Pepin, University of Minnesota
    “The SNC-Viking Connection: Evidence and Arguments for Meteorites from Mars”
  • March 18, 1996 (27th LPSC)
    A. P. Ingersoll, California Institute of Technology
    “Probing Questions about Jupiter”
  • March 13, 1995 (26th LPSC)
    Michael J. Drake, University of Arizona
    “The Moon: What We (Think We) Know About It, How We Know About It; and What We Don’t Know!”
  • 1994 (25th LPSC)
    No Masursky Lecture because of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the conference
  • March 15, 1993 (24th LPSC)
    James Arnold, University of California, San Diego
    “Cosmic Rays Probe Planetary Objects”
  • March 16, 1992 (23rd LPSC)
    Eugene Shoemaker, U.S. Geological Survey
    “Impact Cratering Through the Solar System”
    Ellen Stofan, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    “The Geology of Venus from Masursky to Magellan”