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
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
NASA Ames Space Scientists contributed multiple presentations to the annual NASA Exploration Science Forum sponsored by the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). Ames Code S presentations included recent results pertaining to various topics such as asteroid characterization, geochronology dating of basaltic rocks, impact plume modeling to understand lunar volatile content, terrestrial field studies […]
On June 7th and 8th, Drs. Partha Bera and Gustavo Cruz-Diaz, of the NASA Ames NAI (NASA Astrobiology Institute) CAN 7 team, participated in the Chickasaw Nation Aeronautics and Space Academy (CNASA), held in Ada, OK. The Chickasaw Nation conducts the week-long camp to encourage their Native American youth to consider careers in the STEM […]
The NASA Ames-led field projects titled FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science & Exploration, PI J. Heldmann) and BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains, PI D. Lim) recently (June 2016) conducted a joint deployment to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. This deployment was an in-simulation mission to conduct […]
On May 25th, 2016, a group of sixteen 7th and 8th grade students from Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, CA, visited Ames Research Center to present the results of their year-long Mars research projects. The student presentations described their investigations of esker-like inverted terrain, and a mysterious depression in the Tempe Terra region of Mars. […]
The enormous catastrophic flood discharge required to form the outflow channels likely resulted in an ocean that covered most of the Martian northern lowlands. However, a persistent problem with this hypothesis is the lack of definitive paleo- shoreline features. Here, based on geomorphic and thermal image mapping in the circum- Chryse and northwestern Arabia Terra […]
Ames researchers Anthony Colaprete, Jennifer Heldmann, and Rick Elphic each delivered invited talks at the 57th Annual Brown-Vernadsky Microsymposium in Houston, TX, while Ted Roush and Elphic had poster presentations. This meeting was convened to explore our current knowledge of volatile materials on the Moon and Mercury and seek to identify the key questions, goals […]
The Atacama Rover Astrobiology Drilling Studies (ARADS) project has just completed its first deployment after one month of fieldwork in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert, the “driest place on Earth. More than 20 scientists from the United States, Chile, Spain, and France led by P.I. Brian Glass with Carol Stoker, Alfonso Davila, Richard […]
NASA’s Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration (FINESSE) and Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains (BASALT) teams partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to host a Media Day at the Robert Limbert Visitor Center at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho (August 2015). Special activities for […]
For the last several weeks (3-17 August, 2015) the Resource Prospector (RP) team has been conducting functional and performance testing of an RP rover and payload prototype at JSC. […]
The Meteoritical Society gave its highest award, the Leonard Medal, to Ames’ Jeff Cuzzi at the 2015 annual meeting, this year held on the UC Berkeley campus. Jeff was cited for his cross-disciplinary contributions in connecting astrophysics and meteoritics, with an emphasis on the physics of particle-gas interactions in turbulence. After the award, Jeff gave […]