Planetary Geology

Mars Lake Image

Reconstructed landscape showing the Shalbatana lake on Mars as it may have looked 3.4 billion years ago. (Courtesy Gaetano Di Achille, University of Colorado.)

Planetary geology and geophysics has long been a research focus at the University of Colorado — within LASP and its associated departments:

  • Geological sciences
  • Astrophysics and planetary sciences
  • Atmospheric and oceanic sciences
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Physics
  • Molecular, cellular and developmental biology

Our faculty studies varied fields such as the history of water on Mars, the composition of Saturn’s moons, and the evolution of the interiors of terrestrial planets. In addition:

  • Professor Bruce Jakosky (GEOL) has been selected to lead NASA’s 2013 MAVEN mission to Mars, which will reveal the climate history of the planet
  • Professor Brian Hynek (GEOL) works inside of active volcanoes in Central America to better understand the early history of Mars and its astrobiological potential
  • Professor Brian Toon (ATOC) studies the climatic history of Mars and other planets
  • Dr. Mihaly Horanyi is characterizing lunar dust for upcoming human exploration

Many others at CU contribute to detailing the evolution of the terrestrial planets and in some cases assess if life is, or ever was, possible beyond Earth.