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Planetary geoscientists at PSI perform research to further our understanding of the geologic processes operating on the Earth and other planetary bodies. Research activities include geomorphologic studies/analyses of surface processes, geologic mapping of planetary surfaces, remote sensing and spectroscopy, investigations of terrestrial analogs, and impact cratering processes and history. Scientists utilize the Planetary Geosciences Laboratory’s extensive collection of planetary datasets and array of computer hardware and software in their research.
In addition to a current focus on the geologic evolution of Mars, PSI geoscientists also conduct research using NASA datasets for the Earth, Mercury, Venus, the Moon, asteroids, and the outer planetary satellites. Investigations of planetary surfaces are linked to complementary studies of environments and processes on the Earth at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. We undertake field based data collection in a range of geographic (Australia, Africa, Antarctica, Bolivia, Canada, Hawaii, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, continental USA), climatic (polar, arid, temperate and tropical) and process environments (aeolian, impact crater, fluvial, mass wasting, volcanic, weathering). We combine field (mapping, excavation, sampling, surveying, ground penetrating radar) and remote sensing (at visible, thermal infrared, and radar wavelengths) techniques with lab based analytical techniques (e.g. Scanning Electron Microscopy, textural analysis, radiocarbon, luminescence and cosmogenic isotope dating) and quantitative analyses (statistical characterizations, numerical modeling, and computer simulations).
PSI planetary geoscientists are active participants in national and international scientific meetings, conferences, and workshops, and in education and public outreach through public lectures, NASA-supported outreach programs, and student internships.