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

FINESS KB-COM

FINESSE team completes first field deployment to Craters of the Moon, Idaho

NASA's FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science & Exploration) completed the project's first field deployment in July 2014.  
Pavilion Lake Outland Second Pass

Paviion Lake Research Project completes field deployment to Pavilion Lake, BC

NASA MMAMA (SMD) funded Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP) team completed the project’s first Phase 3 field deployment, which ran from June 12-27, 2014.

Christopher McKay Develops “Extreme Checklist” For Habitable Planets

 New Scientist (6/9, Grossman, 329K) reports that Christopher McKay of the Ames Research Center has developed an “expanded checklist” of the types of planets that could host life. The new checklist was based on “the extremes that life can endure” here on Earth.
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