Planetary Science


Saturn eclipses the sun, as seen from the Cassini orbiter. The dusty rings scatter the sunlight, lighting up the night-side of Saturn. Earth is the faint dot outside the bright, broad main rings, inside the thin, faint G ring.(Courtesy NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Planetary science focuses on many aspects of planetary objects, from their deep interiors to the distant influences of a planet’s gravitational or magnetic field far from the planet’s surface. LASP planetary scientists study data from ground, telescope, and space-based instruments to understand the origins of our solar system and the planets, planetary dust, and electric fields within it.

Scientists at LASP also develop theoretical models of different components of planetary systems, including:

  • Geological processes on Mars
  • Evolution of Saturn’s ring system
  • Interaction of magnetospheric plasma with the volcanic atmospheres of Io and Enceladus
  • Escape of atmospheres from Mars, Mercury, and Pluto
  • Bizarre chemistry of Titan’s atmosphere
  • Charging of dust grains on the surface of the moon

Click on the image to view a PDF (688 KB) of LASP Planetary Science
(Astrobiology, Geology, & Dusty Plasma research).

Click on the image to view a PDF (442 KB) of LASP Planetary Science
(Planetary Atmospheres, Planetary Rings, & Magnetospheres of the Outer Planets research).