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  • Photo Credit: Scott S. Hughes
  • Photo Credit: CEN/ArcticNet
  • Photo Credit: CEN/ArcticNet
  • Photo Credit: Scott S. Hughes & Susan Sakimoto
  • Photo Credit: Scott S. Hughes
  • Photo Credit: Scott S. Hughes
  • Photo Credit: Scott S. Hughes
  • Photo Credit: Scott S. Hughes
  • Photo Credit: Scott S. Hughes
  • Photo Credit: Scott S. Hughes


The FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration) team is focused on a science and exploration field-based research program aimed at generating strategic knowledge in preparation for the human and robotic exploration of the Moon, near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and Phobos & Deimos. We infuse our science program with leading edge exploration concepts since “science enables exploration and exploration enables science.

The primary research objectives of our Science and Exploration programs are as follows:

  1. FINESSE Science: Understand the effects of volcanism and impacts as dominant planetary processes on the Moon, NEAs, and Phobos & Deimos.
  2. FINESSE Exploration: Understand which exploration concepts of operations (ConOps) and capabilities enable and enhance scientific return.

To accomplish these objectives, we conduct an integrated research program focused on scientifically-driven field exploration. Our research is accomplished through a sequenced field program at two strategically chosen field sites. Fieldwork will be conducted at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho and at the West Clearwater Lake Impact Structure in northern Canada. These sites have been chosen to address scientific questions pertaining to volcanism and impact science, respectively, as geologic analogs to the SSERVI Target Bodies.

These terrestrial volcanic and impact records remain invaluable for our understanding of these processes throughout our Solar System, since these are our primary source of first hand knowledge on volcanic landform formation and modification as well as the three-dimensional structural and lithological character of impact craters. Impact cratering, for example, is the dominant geological process on the Moon, asteroids, and moons of Mars.


FINESSE is funded by a grant from NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) and gratefully acknowledges this institute for its on-going support. The FINESSE team would also like to thank the Idaho Space Grant Consortium, the Louisiana Space Grant Consortium, the Indiana Space Grant Consortium, the University of Western Ontario, the Canadian Space Agency, the National Park Service, and Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve for their continued collaboration and support.

Upcoming Activities

A One-Two PunchWest Clearwater Impact Structure (WCIS), Quebec, Canada

Phase A WCIS field deployment:
August 18th departure
Phase B WCIS field deployment:
August 25th departure

Idaho’s Snake River PlainCraters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (COTM), Idaho, USA

Phase A COTM field deployment:
June 20-25, 2014
Phase B COTM field deployment:
July 30-August 8, 2014

lnOMNLogo_circleLgInternational Observe the Moon Night (InOMN)

September 6, 2014
InOMN is a world-wide outreach event to encourage people to observe and learn about our nearest celestial neighbor, the Moon. NASA Ames will be hosting a virtual event organized by the FINESSE team and NASA SSERVI. Join us! The InOMN website can be found here.

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