Planetary Science

Giant planet interiors studied with ab initio computer simulations

Dr. Militzer will briefly review the interior structure of different types of planets and discuss how it is affected by the miscibility of various planetary materials. Results from recent ab initiocomputer simulations will be presented that focus on the miscibility properties of four systems: hydrogen-helium mixtures in gas giant planets, hydrogen-water mixtures in ice giants, silicate-iron mixtures in the interiors of terrestrial planets.

Exploring the Inner Edge of the Habitable Zone in the Early Solar System

Abstract: 3-D models can help explore the possible roles of rotation, atmosphere and ocean dynamical transports, cloud feedbacks and sea ice-albedo feedbacks in determining the habitability of a range of planetary environments. Using recent modifications to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) IPCC AR5 General Circulation Model (GCM) we have explored the Inner Edge of the habitable zone (HZ) of our Solar System.

Laser-based exploration of planetary surfaces: lab, field, and mission instruments and concepts

Mars Science LaboratoryThe capability for simultaneous multispecies detection, rapid analysis, high sensitivity, and high spatial resolution make laser spectroscopy technologies very attractive for the in-situ characterization of organic, mineralogical, and chemical species during planetary exploration.

Private Funding Opportunities for Space Research

Kollipara Horgan Bunger

Join our three expert panelists to find out about opportunities for funding science with venture capital and other commercial opportunities.

This event is co-hosted with the NIAC workshop, to be held at Stanford Feb 4-6 2014.


Thermal History of Planetary Objects: From Asteroids to super-Earths, from plate-tectonics to life

super earthConvection in the interiors of planetesimals (asteroids), planets, and satellites is driving the thermal and chemical evolution of these bodies including the generation of possible magnetic fields.  The wide size range induces a wide range of time scales from hundreds of thousands of years for small planetesimals to a few tens of Gigayears for massive super-Earths.

Ocean Surfaces on Snowball Earth

snowball earth

Dr. Warren will discuss the Snowball Earth events in Earth history, when the ocean apparently froze all the way to the Equator. These events were qualitatively different from the recent ice ages of the Pleistocene, in which ice sheets advanced over large parts of the northern continents.  On Snowball Earth, by contrast, Warren will argue that most of the action was in the ocean. 

Climate Change Impacts in the Arctic Ocean

Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is in rapid decline.  This reduction in ice extent and thickness has resulted in a longer open water season and higher marine productivity.  Until recently, phytoplankton blooms on continental shelves were thought to be restricted to waters free of sea ice.

Europa's Great Lakes

With an icy exterior covering a global ocean, Europa has long been a target of interest in the search for life beyond Earth.  Europa exists in a dynamic environment, subject to intense irradiation and impact as well as immense tides from Jupiter.  These processes deliver important thermal and chemical energy that could be critical to supporting a putative biosphere. In the past few decades the debate about habitability of Europa has been focused strongly on the thickness of the ice shell.  However, an arguably more critical question is: how does the ice shell recycle?


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