From the Program Director

by Victor Davis

The May 2021 meeting of the AAAP will take place (virtually) on Tuesday, May 11th at 7:30 PM. (See How to Join the May Meeting below for details). This meeting is open to AAAP members and the general public. Due to the number of possible attendees, we will use the Waiting Room. This means when you login into Zoom you will not be taken directly to the meeting. The waiting room will be opened at 7:00 PM. Prior to the meeting start time (7:30 PM) you may socialize with others in the waiting room. The meeting room has a capacity of 100 people.

For the Q&A session, you may ask your question using chat or may unmute yourself and ask your question directly to the speaker. To address background noise issues, we are going to follow the rules in the table below regarding audio. If you are not speaking, please remember to mute yourself. You are encouraged, but not required to turn your video on.

Meeting EventParticipant Can Speak?Participant Can Self-Unmute?
Director Rex’s General RemarksYesYes
Program Chair Victor’s  Speaker IntroductionYesYes
Speaker PresentationNoNo
Q&A SessionStart All on MuteYes                                    
5-minute bio break YesYes
Journal Club presentationStart All on MuteNo
Business MeetingStart All on MuteYes
Director’s closing remarksNoNo
Only the Business part of the meeting will be locked.

Featured Speaker: Dr. Alexander Hayes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University and Director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. His presentation is entitled, “Ocean Worlds of the Outer Solar System.”

Titan is the only solar system body besides Earth that supports standing bodies of liquid on its surface. There’s compelling evidence that beneath Europa’s icy shell is a global ocean of liquid water. Might these support life? Solar system exploration stands on the verge of a golden age of exploration, with the opportunity to search for signs of life in one or more of the ocean worlds of the outer solar system within the next two decades. Prof. Hayes’ talk will review what we know about the habitability of the ocean worlds Europa, Enceladus, and Titan, and discuss upcoming mission concepts designed to determine if they are, in fact, inhabited. 

Dr. Hayes’ research is focused Solar System exploration, using a growing armada of spacecraft to study the properties of planetary surfaces.  Hayes’ NASA flight project experience includes Cassini, MER, MSL, Mars2020, Europa Clipper, and Dragonfly. He has also worked on instrument design and characterization for several Missile Defense Agency Programs. Hayes’ research program focuses on planetary surface processes, with a special interest in the ocean worlds of the outer solar system, Mars, and comets. He is a recipient of the Zeldovich Medal from the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Ronald Greeley Early Career Award from the American Geophysical Union, the Sigma Xi Young Scholar Procter Prize, and a NASA Early Career Fellowship. Prof. Hayes earned an M.Eng in Applied Physics at Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the California Institute of Technology. He is currently the chair of the Ocean Worlds and Dwarf Planet panel of the 2023-2032 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey. Prof. Hayes has also been involved in preflight development, calibration, in-flight operation and scientific analysis of data generated by Mastcam-Z, the panoramic and stereoscopic camera on NASA’s Perseverance rover.

AAAP webcast:  This month’s AAAP meeting, beginning with Rex’s opening remarks and ending at the break before the business meeting, will be webcast live on YouTube and recorded for subsequent public access on AAAP’s YouTube channel. Be aware that your interactions during this segment, including questions to our guest speaker, may be recorded for posterity. Here is YouTube live link

Using Zoom: While we are, social distancing the AAAP Board has chosen to use Zoom for our meetings, based our belief that many members have already have used Zoom and its ease of learning. One of its great features is you can choose whether you want to install the software on your computer or use it within your browser.

How to Join the May Meeting: For the meeting, we are going to follow a simple two-step process:

  1. Please make sure you have Zoom installed on your computer. You do not need a Zoom account or need to create one to join the meeting. Nor are you required to use a webcam.
  2. Please visit our website for the link to the meeting
  3. This session will be recorded and saved on YouTube. Send me an email at if you have any concerns.

NOTE: We plan to open the meeting site 30 minutes to the 7:30 start time. This way you won’t have to rush to join the meeting. A maximum of 100 attendees can join the meeting.

More Information: The Zoom site has many training videos most are for people who are hosting a meeting. If you’re unsure how Zoom works you might want to view the videos on how to join a meeting or how to check your computer’s audio and video before the meeting.

We hope to make these short presentations a regular feature of our monthly meetings. If you are interested in presenting a topic of interest, please contact either or We’d like to keep our momentum going!

Upcoming Programs: Here’s a look ahead at upcoming guest speakers. We’re expecting to conduct virtual meetings for the remainder of this academic year. In an effort to turn necessity into a virtue, we’re casting our recruiting net a bit wider than usual, inviting speakers for whom a visit to Princeton would be impractical or inconvenient. Suggestions for guest speakers for September, 2021 and beyond are welcome.

June 8 – Anna Schauer: Dr. Schauer, a new mother, is the NASA Hubble Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. She leads the team researching what she’s nicknamed the Ultimately Large Telescope, a lunar liquid-mirror telescope that will aim at investigating First Star Formation.

WANTED: Members with interesting stories to tell.  As of this writing, no member has volunteered to offer up a brief story or presentation for Journal Club this month. During the past months, we’ve enjoyed interesting and informative talks from AAAP members, and we’d like to keep the momentum going! We hope to make these short presentations a regular feature of our monthly meetings. We’d like to know what members are doing or what members are thinking about in the broad range of topics encompassed by astronomy. A brief ten-minute (or so) presentation is a good way to introduce yourself and the topics you care about to the club membership. If you are interested in presenting a topic of interest, please contact either or

Looking forward to you joining us on Zoom or YouTube Live webcast at the May meeting!

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