Planetary Sciences

Planetary Science Planetary Science


Unlocking the Climate Record Stored within Mars' Polar Layered Deposits

This study will establish a core group of researchers and technologists that will be likely to propose a future mission to the Martian polar regions. We will also identify future opportunities to leverage existing facilities for the study of Mars ice analog samples, and testing hardware for future missions

Cryogenic Comet Sample Return – Compelling New Science vs. Technological Challenges

This study will evaluate a comet’s nucleus interior based on the new results from the Rosetta mission and determine the science impact tradeoffs for a series of temperature ranges for a cryogenic comet nucleus sample return mission. It will also determine the technology needs and technology readiness levels (TRLs) for the various temperature ranges narrowed down in the first goal.

Space Science Opportunities Augmented by Exploration Telepresence

The aim of this workshop will be a critical review of a potentially new space exploration strategic approach: field scientific research on planetary surfaces conducted by astronaut/scientists using robotic surrogates when the distance from the scientists to the robots is so short as to provide the illusion of being part of the surface environment without requiring humans to be physically at the site.

Addressing the Mars ISRU Challenge: Production of Oxygen and Fuel from CO2 using Sunlight

This Keck Institute Space Science study will examine the photoelectrochemical production of fuel (such as carbon monoxide) and oxygen from carbon dioxide on the Mars surface. The main technical goals will be to identify specific photoelectrochemical pathways that are well suited for carbon dioxide reduction in the unique Mars environment, as well as viable designs for scalable Mars oxygen and fuel production devices.

Don't Follow (Just) the Water: Does Life Occur in Non-Aqueous Media?

This study will investigate whether life could originate in hydrocarbon fluids using Titan as an exemplar of a low temperature exoplanetary surface. It will also investigate other fluids such as liquid and supercritical CO2 suggested to be present on exoplanets.

Methane on Mars

We will investigate and explore the best route for solving the profound puzzles arising from the recent ground-truth detection of methane on Mars by the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) onboard Curiosity.

Venus Seismology

The goal of the study is to devise methods to determine the level of current seismic activity and constrain the global structure that would work in the severe environment of Venus.

Gazing at the Solar System: Capturing the Evolution of Dunes, Faults, Volcanoes and Ice from Space

The goals of this study program are to develop the science that can be teased out of spaceborne gazing, specific types of targets and applications, the resolution and spectral bands needed to achieve the science, and possible instrument configurations for future missions.

New Approaches to Lunar Ice Detection and Mapping

This study will develop innovative, low-cost mission concepts for detecting and mapping polar ice deposits on the Moon.

In Situ Science and Instrumentation for Primitive Bodies

The goal of this study is to develop new methods to test the radically new understanding of solar system formation that has recently emerged, and to identify innovative instrumentation targeted to this purpose.

Asteroid Return Mission Study

This program is conducted to investigate the feasibility of finding, characterizing, robotically capturing, and returning an entire Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) to the vicinity of the Earth.

xTerramechanics: Integrated Simulation of Planetary Surface Missions

This study will bring together key technical experts from across the U.S. to advance the study of such surface interactions, deepening our understanding of key mission life-cycle processes: formulation trades, design, mission operations, and in-situ science context and integration.

Future Missions to Titan: Scientific and Engineering Challenges

This program focuses on the potential to developing innovative ideas for future space missions based on the strategy of including a unique cross-fertilization of key experts from multi-institutional backgrounds.

Innovative Approaches to Exoplanet Spectra

The aim of this program is to take a fresh look at exoplanet characterization science from the point of view of new instruments that could do breakthrough science or that could pave the way for the next generation of space missions.

Innovative Approaches to Planetary Seismology

The goal of this study is to bring together scientists and engineers to discuss the planetary structure and seismological approaches. The outcome of the program will be a critical assessment of whether there are new directions to develop, or existing directions in need of technological impetus.

New Directions in Robotic Exploration of Mars

The aim of this program is to analyze the findings from the recent exploration of the surface of Mars.

Mission Concepts for Accessing and Sampling High-Risk Terrain

The goal of this workshop is to explore new potential mission concepts for the exploration of high-risk planetary surfaces.


Looking for Life As (we think) We Know It: Enceladus and Europa

September 16, 2015
Speaker: Jonathan Lunine - Cornell University

Fire and Ice: Exploring Volcanoes on Earth and the Solar System

May 14th, 2015
Speaker: Rosaly M. C. Lopes, Senior Research Scientist, Manager for Planetary Science NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Near-Earth Asteroids: Stepping Stones to an Interplanetary Civilization

August 12, 2014
Speaker: Dr. Stanley Love, NASA Astronaut and Asteroid Scientist

New Frontiers of Planetary Seismology

June 3, 2014
Speaker: Pr. Philippe Lognonné, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Université Paris Diderot-Sorbonne Paris Cité, France

The Future of Human Spaceflight

April 8, 2014
Moderator: Louis Friedman, The Planetary Society

How to Select a Landing Site on Mars

July 08, 2013
Speaker: Dr. Matt Golombek, Mars Exploration Program Landing Site Scientist, JPL

Unraveling the Mysteries of Titan Using Lab on a Chip

June 19, 2013
Speaker: Dr. Morgan Cable, NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Exploring Mars, the Moon, Asteroids, and Comets with Rovers and Landers

February 20, 2013
Speaker: Professor Jim Bell, Arizona State University

Venus: Earth's Evil Twin or Just Misunderstood?

November 5, 2012
Speaker: Dr. Suzanne Smrekar, JPL

Exploring Protoplanets Through the Dawn Mission

May 2, 2012
Speaker: Dr. Carol Raymond, JPL/Caltech

Landing on Mars (do not try this at home)

April 11, 2012
Speaker: Rob Manning, Chief Engineer, Mars Science Laboratory, JPL

Moving An Asteroid

September 28, 2011
Moderator: Dr. Louis Friedman, Executive Director Emeritus of The Planetary Society and Co-Leader of the Keck Institute Asteroid Retrieval Mission Study

Many Suns, Many Worlds: The Galactic Quest for Exoplanets

October 4, 2010
Speakers: Professor Eric Ford, University of Florida; Professor Jason Wright, Pennsylvania State University; Professor Natalie Batalha, San Jose State university; Dr. Mark Swain, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Titan: A Strange Yet Familiar New World

May 26, 2010
Speaker: Oded Aharonson, Associate Professor of Planetary Science, Caltech

Innovative Approaches to Planetary Seismology

March 17, 2010
Speaker: Professor Laurent Gizon, Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung

The Human and Scientific Tale of Galileo

November 19, 2009
Speaker: Professor Alberto Righini, University of Firenze

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