The Institute for Planets and Exoplanets hosts periodic conferences and workshops on UCLA campus which are meant to create a collaborative environment where scientist from around the world can meet and discuss various research topics. In 2012 – 2013, three meetings that drew more than 150 planetary scientists to the UCLA campus to discuss the latest research in their fields.

The first meeting in the 2012-2013 series, dubbed “Ices and Organics in the Inner Solar System”, brought together scientists studying ice and other volatiles far inside the 5 AU snow line, where standard models assume ice is not stable due to heat from the Sun. Scientists at the June 2012 conference explored cold-traps on the surfaces of bodies inside the snow line including the Moon, Mercury and main-belt asteroids, which appear able to preserve water ice, organics and perhaps other volatiles delivered by impact from cometary source reservoirs.

A second iPLEX meeting held in February 2013 explored new research concerning the surface of Mars, where high-resolution data from orbiting spacecraft have revealed features suggesting the presence of liquid brines at or near the surface. Scientists at the “Present-Day Habitability of Mars” meeting discussed implications of the new data for the possible existence of current life on Mars. The meeting was broadcast live on the web by the NASA Astrobiology program and featured remote presenters from six different countries. Special guest and strong proponent of Mars science, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, was in attendance.

In June 2013 a third iPLEX meeting was held in the form of a workshop for scientists studying applications of fluid dynamics to geophysics and astrophysics. Researchers who attended the “Connecting Theory to Experiments in Fluid Dynamics” workshop experimented in UCLA Professor Jonathan Aurnou’s SPINLab and discussed the big-picture applications of their work. iPLEX workshops and conferences contribute to the institute’s objective of developing and advertising planetary and exoplanetary-themed research at UCLA.

The fourth iPLEX meeting occurred in May 2015, and brought together researchers from UCLA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a day of planetary science discussion and the signing of a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations. Highlights of the JPL-UCLA Planetary Science Workshop included talks from scientists from both organizations working on a variety of projects from astrophysical planetary orbits to mission-related science and a poster session in the beautiful Kerckhoff Art Gallery on the UCLA campus. The Dean of Physical Sciences and JPL’s Chief Scientist were present for the event and signed the MoU in hopes of enabling scientific collaboration between the two organizations.

To learn about future meetings, please visit the Upcoming Meetings page. UCLA faculty and researchers or JPL scientists interested in hosting related science workshops or conferences on the UCLA campus should contact us.

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