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An artist's concept of the completed design of NASA’s VIPER, or Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. VIPER will get a close-up view of the location and concentration of ice and other resources at the Moon's South Pole, bringing us a significant step closer to NASA’s ultimate goal of a long-term presence on the Moon – making it possible to eventually explore Mars and beyond.

Planetary Systems Branch

Branch Chief: Luke Sollitt
Deputy Branch Chief: Amanda Brecht
Assistant Chief: Sandra Owen

People about Planetary Systems Branch

Researchers in the Planetary Systems Branch develop new, fundamental knowledge about the origins of stars and planetary systems, their evolution and formation, their environment, and the interdisciplinary area of astrobiology.

Fields of research include:

Planet Modeling

The Planet Modeling group uses physics-driven numerical simulations of natural phenomena in a planetary environment to define what processes and conditions are necessary for such phenomena to occur. These simulations are based on and compared to existing remote sensing and in situ observations. Researchers simulate several aspects of planetary environments, including atmospheric and climate, landform, and geochemical processes. The synergistic relationship between these areas of modeling strengthens our understanding of the whole planetary environment. Planet numerical modeling fundamentally contributes to planetary research at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) and to NASA’s science vision. 

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Two cross sections of simulated temperature and winds on Mars predicted by the MCMC.
NASA/Alexandre Kling