InSight Science Team meeting
Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund Report – Rebecca Colquhoun (2020, Environmental Research (NERC DTP) – Earth Sciences)
In March 2023 I was fortunate to be able to travel to Huntsville, Alabama for the final InSight Science Team meeting. I attended the meeting as part of the InSight Seers program which aimed to widen participation in planetary science missions by enabling graduate students and early career researchers who are not involved in missions to attend science team meetings.
My trip started with a very early morning to get to the airport for my flight to Washington DC. After navigating immigration (where I excitedly told the agent about visiting where the Saturn Vs were tested), I had some lunch and waited for my next flight to Huntsville. That flight was on a 50-seater plane which felt more like being on a coach!
The next morning, I met up with some of the other UK seers and we braved the uncharacteristic zero-degree temperatures to visit the botanical gardens. Whilst the plants were not enjoying the unseasonable weather, there were a number of origami-inspired statues to see. After a visit to a farmers’ market, we went to the welcome event for seers and their mentors. Each member of the InSight Seers program was assigned a science team member to act as a guide for the week.
The first part of the program began with updates from each of the instrument teams on the last data they had collected, before InSight died in December. This kickstarted discussion on one of the ongoing themes of the meeting on the archiving and future access to data.
After the instrument updates, the program moved on to working group updates from each research area involved in the mission, before going on to conference style research talks. I found hearing about ‘in progress’ research interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing how the work progresses into published papers. Understandably, a lot of this work is currently not public, and so I’ll have to leave the content of the research talks to your imagination! There was also a display of posters to look at in the coffee breaks.
The informal nature of the meeting meant there were lots of opportunities to chat with more senior scientists, particularly over lunch. I found it helpful to learn about different people’s career paths. I also enjoyed talking about research with people, particularly about investigating impacts with seismology and I hope to do some research in this area in the future.
There was also a dinner which took place to celebrate the end of the mission underneath a Saturn V rocket. This gave us an exciting chance to look around the Space and Rocket Centre exhibits privately. We also attended a public evening event to see the museum again, complete with live music.
Overall, I had a fantastic time at the meeting; I was able to hear about a variety of very cool research and to meet lots of interesting people. I am very grateful to the meeting organisers and InSight Seers program for giving me the opportunity to attend the meeting, and to funding from the UK Space Agency, University College, Oxford’s Research Training Fund and Keasbey Grants, and a Royal Astronomical Society grant for which enabled me to attend.
Published: 6 July 2023