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

Assistant Chief: Sandra Owen

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

Slurries Of Mud May Have Flowed In Martian Gullies

Slurries Of Mud May Have Flowed In Martian Gullies. The Australia Broadcasting Corporation (11/2, Catchpole) reports, “Martian water most likely flowed as slurries of mud rather than trickling streams, according to a recent NASA report.” Jennifer Heldmann of the Ames Research Center analyzed pictures of the Terra Sirenum and the Centauri Montes regions of Mars, […]

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Salts’ effects on Rock Fracturing on Mars

Mera Horne is currently working with me on the effect of salts, especially perchlorate, on rock fracturing on Mars. She is working at Ames and UC Berkeley funded through the EA program. Next year she plans to become a full time graduate student at UCB working with Professor Hari Dharan of the Mechanical Engineering Department. […]

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Korean Astronaut Soyeon Yi Pleased With Experience At Ames

The UK’s Your Local Guardian (9/25, Didymus) reported, “Korea’s first and only astronaut had a lesson about space from Kingston University lecturer Chris Welch recently, after being stumped by questions from intrigued audiences following her return from the International Space Station.” Soyeon Yi “signed up to a group project run by Dr Welch at the […]

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Scott Hubbard to Lead Mars Program Review

Hubbard will Lead Mars Program Review. Space News (4/14, David) reported, “Scott Hubbard, the former NASA Ames Research Center director…will lead a review team to help shape NASA’s next decade of robotic Mars exploration.” Doug McCuistion, head of the Mars exploration program, stated that the team will “analyze mission architectures” for Mars through 2020. “This […]

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Monitoring Radio Frequency Flux of Extragalactic Sources

Jeff Scargle visited the radio astronomy group at the California Institute of Technology headed by Prof. Anthony Readhead. This group has begun a large program of monitoring the radio frequency flux of about 1,000 extragalactic sources of variable luminosity (mostly active galactic nuclei), using the 40 meter dish of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory. The […]

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Formation of the first planetesimals
Jeff Cuzzi Planetesimal Presentation

Jeff Cuzzi gave an invited talk at JPL on the subject of the formation of the first planetesimals by fluid dynamical effects emphasizing small particles such as actually found in primitive meteorites. […]

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HiRISE’s public target suggestion Web site open to public, NASA Ames researcher (SST) is project manager
Highlights for 1/28/10

Summaries of the HiRISE public target suggestion Web site (called HiWish), are available at: NASA HQ press release: HiRISE team release announcement: HiWish in the press: Nature Blog: Planetary Society: MSNBC: The Ames angle is that while HiRISE is run by Alfred McEwen (PI) out of the University of Arizona, […]

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Miniaturized Biospectral Logger Deployed at Mount Lassen
Miniaturized Biospectral Logger

On April 16-17, 2009, Nathan Bramall, Carol Stoker, and Jhony Zavaleta successfully tested the Miniaturized Biospectral Logger, a borehole fluorescence-detection instrument tuned to detect proteins. The instrument is only 5.1 cm in diameter and 1.4 m long but is sensitive to a single bacterium on a clay mineral background without the use of any consumables. […]

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