Planetary Systems Branch (Code SST)

Solar nebula models have revolutionized conceptions of solar system formation
Solar nebula models have revolutionized conceptions of solar system formation

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

Observational, theoretical, and experimental research on the origin and evolution of planetary systems

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?

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.

Code SST Highlights

Studies Show Phoenix Landed In “Microbe-Friendly” Location

In his column for Space.com (3/31), Leonard David reports, “Evidence is building that NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander plopped down on a microbe-friendly location.” At the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference last week, Carol Stoker of the Ames Research Center “valued the Phoenix landing site as having a higher potential for life detection than any site […]

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Gemini-N Images

Here is a GMOS image in .png and .jpg format for pointing, taken in Gemini-N on 2009-Sep-11-13:12 UT. The exact slit positions will be revised before impact after image analyses by Diane Wooden w.r.t. coordinates supplied by the LCROSS Mission and the shadow models. I am posting 3 images and an ejecta flux prediction (W/(m^2 […]

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Planetary Content Team Wins 2009 Ames Honor Award

The Planetary Content Team has been selected as one of the winners of the 2009 Ames Honor Award. The following people will receive an award (ceremony to be held on Oct. 14) for helping to develop “Mars in Google Earth” (aka “Google Mars 3D”). Michael Broxton, Matt Hancher, Ross Beyer, Mike Lundy […]

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The Ring Hunters

Jeff Cuzzi and Jack Lissauer (SST), and Mark Showalter (SETI), appeared on “The Universe” episode “The Ring Hunters” September 15, 2009. […]

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NASA Picks Crater For LCROSS Mission

The Los Angeles Times (9/12, Johnson, 797K) reported, “NASA scientists announced Friday that they had picked a 60-mile-wide crater near the moon’s south pole as the place where they will send a rocket to punch a hole in the lunar surface next month in search of water.” The announcement was made at the Ames Research […]

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Helo Makers Vying For Ames Task Orders

Helo Makers Vying For Ames Task Orders. HELO TECH: Bell Helicopter, Boeing and Sikorsky will share a five-year, $40 million cost plus fixed-fee contract for subsonic rotary wing technology development awarded by NASA Ames Research Center. The three will compete on task orders for research and development support of a variety of rotorcraft needs, including […]

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Ames Mars Climate Modeling Center (MCMC)

Jeff Hollingsworth presented the case for an Ames Mars Climate Modeling Center (MCMC) at the Mars Exploration and Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) meeting in Washington DC this week (March 3-4). The general reaction from the community was favorable and Jim Green, Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA HQ, plans to continue “moving forward” […]

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Chronicling Mars: Science Fiction and Fact

Ted Roush presented an invited lecture at Bellevue College, near Seattle, Washington on April 22, 2009. The lecture was the culmination of an academic effort entitled “BCC Reads!” BCC Reads, is Bellevue College’s annual common book and community reading program. Its mission is to strengthen literacy practices, promote campus and community collaboration, and generate excitement […]

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LRO Scheduled to Arrive at the Moon Tuesday

LRO Scheduled To Arrive At The Moon Tuesday. Computerworld (6/20, Gaudin) reported, “NASA reported on its Web site that all is going according to plan” after the launch of the LRO and LCROSS spacecraft “and that its flight operations team established communication with both satellites…hours after the launch.” According to the article, the spacecraft is […]

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Planetesimal Formation

Jeff Cuzzi gave an invited talk at the Workshop on Planetesimal Formation at the Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge University, UK on October 29th. His talk dealt with direct formation of large planetesimals from chondrule-size objects. Workshop was held from September 28-Oct 30; talk was the 29th. […]

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