Planetary Science and Exploration Studies

Grant #: NNX14AT27A
Senior Scientist: Pascal Lee

A 4-year multidisciplinary research program supporting NASA’s Strategic Plan and Science Plan goals and objectives is proposed. 

The guiding theme for the proposed Science investigations is Water in the Solar System; that for the proposed Exploration work is Steps to Humans on Mars.

The proposed Science investigations will address central questions in planetary science and astrobiology by focusing on studies of the origin and evolution of water on planetary bodies, in particular via Earth-based and spacecraft investigations of physical, chemical, geologic, and hydrologic features, settings, properties, and processes on the Earth, the Moon, Mars, Asteroids and other small bodies, including the moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos.

The proposed Exploration work will provide critical support to planning and implementing the future human exploration of Mars by helping achieve incremental steps towards this goal, in particular via the development, testing, and validation of new exploration concepts, technologies, systems, mission architectures, operations, and strategies for future robotic and human missions to the Moon, Near-Earth Asteroids, Phobos and Deimos, and Mars.

The proposed research will be carried out through a combination of theoretical and concept studies, spacecraft mission data analysis, field investigations in terrestrial analog environments, and collaborative workshops.

The proposed effort will build on two decades of related investigations led by the proposing PI, including field studies at the NASA Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island, High Arctic. Coordination of the proposed research activities with NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) will be sought whenever appropriate.