Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Planetary Science Research Thrusts

Southwest Research Institute provides planetary science research in a variety of technical areas. Our Planetary Science Research Department offers decades of experience to provide innovative technology and fundamental and applied research for academic government agencies, commercial companies and academic institutions around the world.

To learn more, visit the research area pages below or visit Planetary Science Research Staff to contact a space researcher or scientist.

space instrumentation

Planetary Exploration Instrumentation – Ground- and space-based instrumentation to explore planetary bodies from Mercury to the outer reaches of our Solar System. Instrumentation includes novel mass spectrometers, ultraviolet and infrared spectrographs, and Raman suites to investigate planetary surfaces and atmospheres.

Researchers: Thomas Greathouse, Pippa Molyneux, Ed Patrick, Kurt Retherford, Ryan Blase

illustration of 16 Psyche, a large M-type asteroid

Planetary Surfaces and Rings – Spectroscopic, in situ, and morphologic observations and interpretations of planet, moon, rings and small body surfaces through spacecraft missions, ground-based telescopes, and space observatories such as the HST and the JWST spanning from the ultraviolet to the infrared.

Researchers: Anicia Arredondo, Tracy Becker, Pippa Molyneux, Joshua Kammer, Kurt Retherford, Danielle Wyrick, Michael Poston, Ben Teolis, Ujjwal Raut

Telescope view of ices in interstellar clouds

Planetary Atmospheres – In in situ measurement expertise, as well as telescopic observations, computational modeling and theory of planetary atmospheres, ionospheres, and surface-bound exospheres.

Researchers: Rohini Giles, Cesare Grava, Thomas Greathouse, Joshua Kammer, Ben Teolis, Randy Gladstone, Rudy Frahm

Pluto's moon Charon

Laboratory Astrophysics – Laboratory simulations of space environments, including interstellar clouds, protoplanetary disks, and planetary surfaces. Processes include space weathering, disk accretion and surface-exosphere interactions.

Researchers: Michael Poston, Ben Teolis, Akbar Whizin, Ed Patrick, Ujjwal Raut, Danielle Wyrick, Danna Qasim

Cross-section computer drawing of the interior of a water ocean world

Ocean Worlds and Astrobiology – Measurement, analysis, and modeling of CHNOPS volatiles and organics at ocean worlds and other volatile-rich planetary environments with applications to habitability and planetary origins.

Researchers: Danna Qasim, Chris Glein, Kelly Miller, Ngoc Truong

Illustration of the Moon's surface with astronauts and equipment

Analysis of Extraterrestrial Samples – Spectroscopic examination, geochemical analysis and sample-based simulations with applications to planetary origin and evolution, and connections to remote sensing and in situ datasets.

Researchers: Kelly Miller, Michael Poston, Ujjwal Raut, Ed Patrick

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