Status Report From: American Astronomical Society
Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2002


Over the next couple of months, Dr. Michael Belton and the NRC Steering Group will be wrapping up their work on the decadal study report containing an overarching list of prioritized issues and recommendations for solar system exploration in the period 2003-2013. They are digesting a massive amount of input they have received from the planetary community.

Your input on the final prioritization will continue to be accepted through the end of this month (January). Please address the following two questions:

(1) What are the three most significant discoveries of the past decade?

(2) What are the three most important investigations for the coming decade?

The Planetary Community Decadal Website has now been modified to accept and forward your input on these issues. Go to

A compilation of your comments will be posted on the above site at the end of the month.

Mark V. Sykes,
DPS Past Chair


(Response must by received by February 10, 2002)

Dear Colleagues,

Since the publication in 1982 of the Space Science Series Book "Comets", there have been dramatic advances in cometary science. Spacecraft have visited four comets, and the IR and millimeter ranges have been systematically explored revealing a wealth of new molecular species. Hundreds of transneptuniam objects, which are the likely progenitors of the short-period comets, have been discovered during the past decade. A new era is now opening during which coma samples will be studied with spaceborne and ground-based instruments. Hardware advances will continue to deliver new remote-sensing results at an increasingly rapid pace. In addition, theoretical advances and new computational resources allow complex systems to be modeled more accurately than before, thus providing a much clearer understanding of processes such as coma structure and evolution, nucleus activity, coma and solar system nebula physics and chemistry, and orbital dynamics.

For these reasons, the time has come to begin work on "Comets II", a new book to be published in the Space Science Series of the University of Arizona Press. A Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC) of 16 international members has been formed and has made plans for the organization and content of this book. The editors of Comets II will be Michel C. Festou, H. Uwe Keller, and Harold A. Weaver.

The purpose of this message, sent on behalf of the Editors and the SOC, is to invite you to participate in the Comets II project. More specifically, this message is a solicitation of ideas for chapter topics and a solicitation of volunteers for chapter authors. If you would like to recommend chapters for the book or would like to volunteer to write a particular chapter, we would like to hear from you NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 10, 2002.

We hope that you will consider contributing to this effort, as we expect Comets II to be the fundamental source of information on comets for both students and researchers during the next decade.

If you do not anticipate being an author, please consider serving as a reviewer and complete the form found at the URL given below. If you have any questions, you can direct them to the Comets II editors using the contact information supplied below.

The detailed information notice for Comets II chapter authors and contributors is available at:

On behalf of the Comets II Editors and the entire SOC, we are grateful for your interest and look forward to your participation in Comets II.

Best regards,

Michel Festou                           Richard P. Binzel
Editor, Comets II                       General Editor,
Observatoire Midi-Pyrenees              Arizona Space Science Series
14, avenue E. Belin           
31400 Toulouse
Tel: +33 5 61 33 29 42
Fax: +33 5 61 33 28 40

NASA has selected the New Horizons mission to proceed with the detailed design (Phase B) of a mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt. The baseline mission will launch in January 2006, conduct an intense Jovian system observation campaign during its Jupiter Gravity Assist flyby in March 2007, fly by Pluto-Charon in July, 2016, and visit up to three KBOs in order to sample the diversity of the Kuiper Belt. New Horizons will hold a 3-day Pluto-Kuiper Belt workshop in Boulder during the week of May 27 in support of mission science and broad mission participation by community members. More information about the New Horizons project can be found at: and

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT Full Time, Tenure-Track, Assistant Professor, Northern Arizona University. See also AAS Job Register:

Melissa McGrath, DPS Secretary-Treasurer submissions to:

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