Thomas R. Watters is a Senior Scientist of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. He received his BS in earth science from West Chester University in 1977, his MA in geology from Bryn Mawr College in 1979, and his PhD in geology from George Washington University in 1985. He joined the staff of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies in 1984 as a research geologist and served as Chairman of the Center from 1989 to 1998. Dr. Watters is the Director of the NASA Regional Planetary Image Facility housed in CEPS and is curator of the Museum's Earth Today: A Digital View of our Dynamic Planet display.
Dr. Watters' research interests are in planetary tectonics, planetary geology and geophysics, and remote sensing. His research involves the detailed characterization of tectonic landforms using image and topographic data, and the development of kinematic and mechanical models for their origin. Both analytical and numerical methods are employed in mechanical modeling of tectonic features. His research also involves geophysical modeling of tectonic stresses and determining the mechanical and thermal structure of deformed planetary lithospheres. Dr. Watters has studied tectonic landforms on all the terrestrial planets and the Moon, as well as analog structures on the Earth. Through his studies of tectonic landforms, he hopes to better understand the tectonic and thermal evolution of the solid bodies in our solar system.
Dr. Watters is involved in three planetary missions. He is a Participating Scientist on Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument of the Mars Express Mission. He is using MARSIS radar sounder to look for evidence of buried impact basins in the northern lowlands of Mars and to examine the properties of the enigmatic Medusae Fossae Formation. Dr. Watters is a Participating Scientist on the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) Mission. He is actively involved in the identification and analysis of tectonic landforms using images and data obtained from MESSENGER. Dr. Watters is also a Participating Scientist on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission. As a member of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team, he is examining young thrust fault scarps on Moon to determine their spatial distribution and age.