National Air and Space Museum 2015 Annual Report

Center for Earth and Planetary Studies

<i>Curiosity</i> at "Big Sky"
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity at the "Big Sky" site, where it drilled into the base of Mount Sharp. CEPS scientists John Grant and Sharon Wilson Purdy received a NASA Group Achievement Award for the MSL Prime Mission Science and Operations Team..

The Center for Earth and Planetary Studies (CEPS) is the scientific research unit within the National Air and Space Museum. Its scientists conduct an active research program in planetary and terrestrial geology and geophysics including work involving Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, asteroids, and icy outer-planet satellites.

In 2015, CEPS scientists published 28 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. Six of these appeared in the high-impact journals Science, Geology, and Geophysical Research Letters. Three of the six papers were first-authored by CEPS scientists.

There are many major projects taking place in CEPS, some involving direct participation in current planetary missions. The projects below are just highlights; a link to a complete list of CEPS research is at the bottom.

  • Senior Scientist Thomas Watters was the lead author of a paper—"Global Thrust Faulting on the Moon and the Influence of Tidal Stresses"—published online and in the October issue of the journal Geology.
  • Watters was also lead author on the paper, “Distribution of large-scale contractional tectonic landforms on Mercury: Implications for the origin of global stresses” in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
  • Geologist Gareth Morgan was lead author of “Evidence for the Episodic Erosion of the Medusae Formation Preserved within the Youngest Volcanic Province on Mars” in Geophysical Research Letters.
  • Geologist John Grant has been appointed to the NASA Steering Committee for identifying landing site candidates for humans on Mars. This activity culminated in a workshop where 45 candidate exploration zones were identified and discussed.
  • Geophysicist and Department Chair Bruce Campbell is a team member for one of the NASA Europa mission instruments, REASON, a radar sounder that will probe down into the ice shell of Europa to search for water. Europa is one of the four large moons of Jupiter.
  • Campbell is also a science team member on two of the five NASA Discovery mission concepts selected for study. The two missions are both to Venus: VERITAS, an orbiter that can image the surface with radar and infrared sensors, and DAVINCI, a descent probe that will measure atmospheric properties down to the surface.

List of CEPS Articles, Blogs, and Papers

List of CEPS staff and their areas of expertise