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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

Planetary Science Workforce Survey

Why a survey? How is the Planetary Workforce Changing?

NASA spends ~$1.5B in the Planetary Science Division, mostly on missions that explore the solar system.  Yet, we know very little about the planetary science workforce, the people who work on such missions or the data they produce. One reason is that planetary science is a highly interdisciplinary field. Planetary scientists are trained in many areas of science (from math to physics to geology to atmospheric science to chemistry), work in a variety of types of institutions (government labs, non-profit labs, industries, universities), and belong to different professional organizations (AGU, DPS, LPSC, GSA). The objective of this study is to gather statistics on professional planetary science (estimated to be about 2000 people) and to provide the analysis of these data to NASA’s Planetary Science Division, and back to the DPS, AGU, GSA – and the community.

Part A: The first component of the project is a survey of US academic departments that include planetary science.

Part B: A survey to individual members of the AAS/DPS, the AGU Planetary Science Section, as well as attendees of the LPSC. In the second survey we include GSA.

We are grateful to the Statistical Research Center (SRC) at the American Institute of Physics (AIP) who assist us with design of both surveys and will carry out Part B. Check out the SRC’s great website full of amazing statistics about the physical sciences.

State of Planetary Science Profession

These slides present data on demographics on the planetary science research community that were gathered to support the State of the Profession Writing Group of the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032. (Presentation posted on the University of Colorado CU Scholar public site with this DOI:

The 2020 Survey

The Division of Planetary Science (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) worked with the American Institute of Physics (AIP) to produce the 2020 Planetary Science Workforce Survey.

Results of 2011 survey

Responses from 2622 people associated with the AGU, DPS and LPSC (62% response).