NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology JPL Home Earth Solar System Stars & Galaxies Science & Technology Bring the Universe to You JPL Email News RSS Podcast Video
Follow this link to skip to the main content

Research Topics List
Earth Sciences
Planetary Sciences
Astrophysics & Space Sciences
Exploration & Observational Systems
Software & Computing Systems
Strategic Technology Directions
Guidelines for Ethics in Research
Laboratories and Facilities
News and Events
ST icon
Office of the Chief Scientist and Chief Technologist

Planetary Sciences

Average Rating: 4 / 5 (19 ratings)
  •   star rating help
    How Do I Rate This?
    The blue stars show the average user rating for this item. To add your own rating, move your cursor over the stars to highlight them in gold, and click to show your rating. One star highlighted is the lowest rating, all five is the highest. Once you have rated an item, your rating is added to the average.
Planetary Geology and Geophysics
Planetary Geology and Geophysics

Planetary geology and geophysics activities focus on exploring Earth and the other planets in our solar system. Researchers are involved in volcanology, tectonics, mantle dynamics, and mineralogy. Most recently, several JPL researchers have been involved in studies that are analyzing surface data from the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) and the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), known as the Curiosity rover.

drill target
‘Cumberland' Target Drilled by Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover drill.

Planetary science geophysics and geosciences studies focus on the solid bodies in the solar system, with particular emphasis on planets and major satellites. Research topics include:

  • tectonics
  • volcanology
  • impact processes
  • geologic mapping
  • surface geochemistry, mineralogy, and morphology
  • interior structure
  • lithosphere and mantle dynamics
  • gravity and magnetic field interpretation

The planetary bodies at the center of most studies include Mars, Earth, Venus, Moon, Io, Europa, Titan, Vesta and Ceres, and methods include image interpretation (visible, infrared, radar), laboratory work, field work, infrared spectroscopy, geophysical data interpretation, modeling and laboratory work.

Research efforts originate from a variety of NASA and JPL programs, including:

  • Mars Data Analysis Program
  • Mars Fundamental Research Program
  • Mars Instrument Development Program
  • flight instrument teams
  • JPL Research and Technology Development


M. Rosaly Lopes - Management Contact - Volcanology
Phone: 818.393.4584

Robert Anderson - Mars Exploration – Mars Science Laboratory
Phone: 818.393.1253

William Bruce Banerdt - Mars Exploration - Insight
Phone: 818.354.5413


Site Manager:  Brian Knosp
Webmasters:  Cornell Lewis, Maryia Davis

JPL Clearance:  CL#08-4147