Planetary Systems Branch (Code SST)

Observational, theoretical, and experimental research on the origin and evolution of planetary systems
Hubble observations that discovered rings of Uranus

Hubble observations that discovered rings of Uranus

How common are planetary systems around nearby stars? Which conditions are necessary for planet formation? Are there other Earth-like planets capable of harboring life? What forms of life can be sustained in different physical and chemical environments?

Solar nebula models have revolutionized conceptions of solar system formation

Solar nebula models have revolutionized conceptions of solar system formation

We have world-class expertise in planetary geology and geophysics, planetary atmospheres and climate, and planetary disks and rings.

Solar nebula models have revolutionized conceptions of solar system formation.

Our scientists are at the very forefront of many observational and theoretical studies.

Extensive Mars research efforts include global circulation modeling of the atmosphere, and detailed studies of the geology, chemistry and mineralogy of surface materials.

Ames scientists also provide science and engineering leadership in sub-surface exploration, with a demonstrated capability in developing and testing drills.

Branch scientists conduct a large array of Mars analog field campaigns in arid sites such as Antarctica, the Atacama desert in Chile, California’s Mojave desert, and the Rio Tinto region of Spain, making critical tests of technologies and practices that will be integrated into future missions.

Branch scientists are conducting science and engineering concept studies for future missions including Mars Scout concepts like the Mars Polar Drill and Mars Meteorology Orbiter.

 

 

MARTE Drilling and Sampling System

MARTE Drilling and Sampling System

 


Instruments such as the Mars Oxidant Analyzer (MOI) for the ESA 2011 ExoMars Mission show that we have an international reputati

Instruments such as the Mars Oxidant Analyzer (MOI) for the ESA 2011 ExoMars Mission show that we have an international reputat

SST participation in current and future Mars Missions

SST participation in current and future Mars Missions

SST

SST

SST2

SST2

Deep Impact mission graph

Ground-based observations by our scientists helped to make the Deep Impact mission a success and led to three papers in Science

The Planetary Systems Branch is primarily in N245, with some laboratory facilities in N239.

Chief: Dr. Jeff Hollingsworth
Email: Jeffery.L.Hollingsworth@nasa.gov

Assistant Chief: Sandra Owen
Email: Sandra.Owen@nasa.gov

Front Office: 650-604-5524

 Highlights

Rock on the Martian Surface

Don’t Eat the Dirt on Mars: the Pros and Cons of Perchlorate

Planetary Systems Branch Pathways Intern's Article about Mars Featured on KQED, San Francisco PBS affiliate

 

To be successful Mars colonists, future astronauts will need to know both the potential hazard and utility of the soil. Astronauts can use Martian soil to “live off the land” as building material, fuel, or a fertilizer, greatly reducing the cost of a Mars mission, which is one of the biggest barriers to sending humans to the red planet.

LRO Images LADEE At The Moon

LRO Images LADEE At The Moon. Spaceflight Now (1/30, Clark, 3K) reports that on Wednesday, NASA released an image of the LADEE spacecraft taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The article describes how LRO operators were able to capture the image on January 14.

K-Rex rover

Ames Team to Use Robots, Humans to Study Impact Sites and Volcanoes Selected to Join New Virtual Research Institute

The Ames project dubbed “FINESSE,” which stands for Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration, was selected to join a new NASA virtual institute that will focus on questions concerning space science and human space exploration. The team was selected to participate by NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), which is based at Ames.

Science January 2014

Exploring Martian Habitability

Curiosity's results from Yellowknife bay were published online in Science Express last month (December 2013), to correspond with the first day of the AGU (American Geophysical Union).
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