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

Ames Space Scientists contribute to NASA’s Annual Exploration Science Forum
SMD weekly Highlight

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 […]

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NASA Ames organizes joint NASA – National Park Service Community Day in Idaho
NASA Ames organizes joint NASA - National Park Service Community Day in Idaho

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 […]

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Evergreen Middle School Students present HiRISE Mars Research at Ames!
Evergreen Middle School

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. […]

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Paper published May 19, 2016 in Scientific Reports entitled: Tsunami Waves Extensively Resurfaced the Shorelines of an Early Martian Ocean
Weekly Highlight

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 […]

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Leonard Medal awarded to Dr. Jeff Cuzzi
Leonard Medal awarded to Dr. Jeff Cuzzi

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 […]

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