The Museum's staff conducts research in three major areas: Aeronautics, Space History, and Earth and Planetary Studies. Below you find a selection of our most current projects.
The distribution and character of lobate scarps on the Moon indicate that the most likely reason for their formation is global contraction of the Moon caused by interior cooling.
Transverse Aeolian Ridges (TARs) are wind-produced landforms on Mars that may be either large ripples or small sand dunes. Ripples form in a very different way than dunes, so it is important to determine which these features are.
The Ka'u Desert, located on the western flank of Kilauea Volcano on the main island of Hawaii, may be the best analog to what we think early Mars was like.
The main objective of Curiosity's mission is to "assess habitability" of both Mars' past and present environments.
Linear dunes are the most common dune forms on Earth, and they appear on all terrestrial planets that have an atmosphere, yet scientists still do not have a clear understanding as to how they form.
We are studying the history of landforms on Earth in order to understand how similar landforms were generated on other planets and moons.
Some features on Mars have been interpreted to be shorelines around former lakes or oceans. We are examining the proposed Martian shoreline features using recent imaging data.
The southern region of Egypt where the Selima Sand Sheet is located was wetter and inhabited in the past. Now it is an uninviting monotonous, dry, vegetation-free expanse. We are examining this evolution.
The Mars Landing site steering committee co-led the science community MSL landing site selection process and helped evaluate the landing site in Gale crater where layered rocks should yield information on the past conditions and habitability of Mar
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) gathers information on subsurface features using radio waves that are transmitted into the subsurface that then reflect off differing layers and structures.
Modified impact craters attest to the fact that some form of precipitation and surface runoff occurred throughout the early history of Mars. We are conducting a systematic analysis of all modified impact craters on Mars to learn more.
Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano on Earth. New studies have provided insights into the emplacement processes for recent lava flows.
We use the world's largest radio telescopes to make radar maps of the Moon.
The lowlands of Venus are dominated by volcanic lava flows, which have many features similar to ones found on volcanoes on Earth or Mars.
The physical and chemical nature of the light-toned layered deposits in Terby crater are consistent with deposition of material in a large, standing body of water much earlier in Mars' history.
We are studying inverted and volcanic channels using satellite data of Mars and in the field on Earth to better understand how they form.
Radar maps of the Moon include stunning views of the polar regions where water ice and other volatiles may accumulate.
Geologic mapping is an integral part of exploration and understanding a planetary landscape, because it shows the relationships between geologic units and helps delineate the history of a surface.
We are using orbital photographs, topography, and spectral data to determine what kinds of geologic processes and deposits filled ancient craters on Mars.
The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are acting as ground-truth operators, remotely manned by the researchers to explore the Martian terrain.
The main objective of our study was to determine the extent of Victoria crater's degradation to resolve its original, pristine crater morphology and the processes responsible for its modification.
Interest in the history of water activity on Mars is driven by the question of whether evidence of life, past or current, can be found on another planet.
Valley networks are frequently cited as the best evidence that liquid water once existed on Mars. Currently, we are examining valley networks in other areas of Mars with the goal of understanding potential global and regional climatic differences.