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 Geophysics & Planetary Geosciences
The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit investigates the rock nicknamed Adirondack

This group studies the solid bodies in the solar system, with particular emphasis on planets and major satellites. Our research topics include:

  • tectonics,
  • volcanology,
  • impact processes,
  • geologic mapping,
  • surface geochemistry, mineralogy, and morphology,
  • interior structure,
  • lithosphere and mantle dynamics, and
  • gravity and magnetic field interpretation.
The bodies we study include Mars, Earth, Venus, Moon, Io, Europa, Titan, Vesta and Ceres, and our methods include image interpretation (visible, infrared, radar), laboratory work, field work, infrared spectroscopy, geophysical data interpretation, modeling, and laboratory work. Our research funding comes from a variety of NASA and JPL programs, including Planetary Geology and Geophysics, Mars Data Analysis Program, Mars Fundamental Research Program, Mars Instrument Development Program, Mars Critical Data Products Initiative, flight instrument teams, and JPL Research and Technology Development.

The thrust of our group is twofold: we do independent research but are also heavily involved in flight projects, with scientists holding key positions in the Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Global Surveyor, Dawn, and Cassini. Our scientists are also involved in missions currently under development, such as Mars Science Laboratory, various competed mission proposals (e.g., in the Discovery, Mars Scout, and New Frontiers programs), and in the analysis of the rich data sets provided by current and past missions, including Galileo, Mars Pathfinder, and Magellan. Our expertise in geology and geophysics provides core science support for numerous current flight projects at JPL and for studies of future missions. We propose missions and instruments that will bring new understanding to the interiors and surfaces of solid bodies in the solar system.


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