Image from Magellen
Venus: This SAR image from the southern portion of Navka (24.4-25.3 degrees south latitude, 338.5-340.5 degrees east longitude) is a mosaic of twelve Magellen orbits that covers 180 kilometers (108 miles) in width and 78 kilometers (47 miles) in length.

Planetary science, geophysics, and geosciences studies at JPL focus on the solid bodies of the Solar System, with particular emphasis on terrestrial-like planets and major satellites.  Research in this area includes:

  • tectonics
  • volcanology
  • impact processes (including cratering)
  • geologic mapping
  • surface geochemistry, mineralogy, and morphology


Current Challenges

Cratering simulations and mission photographs
Comparison of crater images from simulations and photograph from a real missions: (a) top view of case C1 at late time (αs shown), (b) Case C4 at the same time, (c) NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) landing image (Mars Science Laboratory, 2012 ).

Geoscience research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory centers on planetary bodies including Mars, Earth, Venus, Moon, Io, and Europa. These bodies are studied using several methods, including 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
  • Solar Systems Working
  • Emerging Worlds
  • Habitable Worlds
  • Cratering (and its impacts on gravity and atmospheric density)
  • Planetary Data Archiving, Restoration, and Tools
  • Lunar and Mars Data Analysis
  • Flight instrument teams
  • JPL Research and Technology Development