Planetary Sciences

Planetary Science Planetary Science


Digital Twins for Solar System Exploration: Enceladus

This KISS study program aims to define and develop the ability to simulate a proposed mission concept synthetically ahead of time, where the simulation includes the fundamental physical processes of interest, the characteristics of proposed observations (both intrinsic to any given instrument and how the measurement technique interacts with the physical environment), and finally the ConOps for the mission (e.g., acquisition strategy, orbital parameters, viewing geometry, mission duration, etc.).

Sample return from all across the Solar System

This study will evaluate the science case for, and feasibility of, returning samples from the surface, atmosphere, and/or plumes of planetary bodies all across the Solar System, from Mercury to Kuiper Belt Objects beyond Pluto’s orbit.

Determining the Interior Structure of Uranus

This study program will bring together theorists, observers, experimentalists, and mission architects to draft an innovative yet practical plan for determining the interior structure of Uranus.

The Biology of Biosignature Detection

This study will develop a new framework for biological validation for future missions with science driving the instrument development.

Enabling Fast Response Missions to NEOs, ISOs, and LPCs

This study will leverage previous results from that 2018 KISS study, especially in the realm of science traceability, instrumentation, and concept of operations. This study will dive directly into the mission lifecycle changes required to explore an ISO and LPC and will dive deeper into “rapid response”, develop strategies and identify technologies to enable the up-close exploration of the next ISO or LPC discovered.

Targeting Microhabitats for Life Detection

This KISS study will examine and advance 1) non-destructive instrumentation to detect biosignatures (agnostic and Earth inspired); 2) sampling techniques to collect and preserve microhabitats while retaining the spatial context; and 3) culturing of acquired microorganisms.

Non-Nuclear Exploration of the Solar System

This KISS study will investigate a system architecture with the potential to provide solar-powered transportation to the outer planets and solar power in orbit at the destination.

Next-Generation Planetary Geodesy

This KISS study will identify the transformative science that would be enabled by next-generation geodesy at Mars, Venus, and Ocean Worlds and discover the new technologies and mission architectures needed to achieve these scientific advances.

The Next-Generation Ground-Based Planetary Radar

The goal of this study is to explore approaches to the next-generation planetary radar capable of providing compelling science and complementing and motivating NASA science missions as well as potentially providing NASA mission assurance by being able to track spacecraft.

Revolutionizing Access to the Martian Surface

The main goals for this study are to identify the most important measurements related to Decadal survey science questions; to conceive the mission architecture to access the Martian surface (entry-descent-landing; EDL) and conduct efficient operations of multiple Mars assets; and to identify how/if emerging commercial lunar capabilities can be leveraged to break the mass-cost dependency for Mars surface missions.

Nebulae: Deep-Space Computing Clouds

The goals of this study program are to identify new science missions enabled by a nebula; to quantify benefit to traditional, existing, and planned science missions; to identify candidate mission architectures and demonstration milestones for follow on proposal development for all participants.

Tidal Heating – Lessons from Io and the Jovian System

This KISS study will emphasize the Jovian system, and Io in particular, as the best laboratory for understanding the fundamental processes of tidal heating.

Large Constellations and Formations for Exploring Interstellar Objects and Long-Period Comets

This KISS study will investigate the best strategies for exploring planetary objects with very long periods such as ‘Oumuamua, the first interstellar visitor ever observed, and comets coming from the Oort cloud.

MarsX: Mars Subsurface Exploration

This study is the incubator for determining science questions, key technologies, collaborations, strategies, and mission proposals that will make deep and wide Mars subsurface access a feasible and affordable reality beyond Mars 2020.

Accessing the Subsurface Oceans of Icy Worlds

This KISS study is devoted to the question of accessing the subsurface oceans of icy worlds in order to explore these water oceans and to discover the presence of alien extant life. The goal is to review the different technologies that have been developed and to define the technologies that are still required.

Unlocking the Climate Record Stored within Mars' Polar Layered Deposits

This study will establish a core group of researchers and technologists that will be likely to propose a future mission to the Martian polar regions. We will also identify future opportunities to leverage existing facilities for the study of Mars ice analog samples, and testing hardware for future missions

Cryogenic Comet Sample Return – Compelling New Science vs. Technological Challenges

This study will evaluate a comet’s nucleus interior based on the new results from the Rosetta mission and determine the science impact tradeoffs for a series of temperature ranges for a cryogenic comet nucleus sample return mission. It will also determine the technology needs and technology readiness levels (TRLs) for the various temperature ranges narrowed down in the first goal.

Space Science Opportunities Augmented by Exploration Telepresence

The aim of this workshop will be a critical review of a potentially new space exploration strategic approach: field scientific research on planetary surfaces conducted by astronaut/scientists using robotic surrogates when the distance from the scientists to the robots is so short as to provide the illusion of being part of the surface environment without requiring humans to be physically at the site.

Addressing the Mars ISRU Challenge: Production of Oxygen and Fuel from CO2 using Sunlight

This Keck Institute Space Science study will examine the photoelectrochemical production of fuel (such as carbon monoxide) and oxygen from carbon dioxide on the Mars surface. The main technical goals will be to identify specific photoelectrochemical pathways that are well suited for carbon dioxide reduction in the unique Mars environment, as well as viable designs for scalable Mars oxygen and fuel production devices.

Don't Follow (Just) the Water: Does Life Occur in Non-Aqueous Media?

This study will investigate whether life could originate in hydrocarbon fluids using Titan as an exemplar of a low temperature exoplanetary surface. It will also investigate other fluids such as liquid and supercritical CO2 suggested to be present on exoplanets.

Methane on Mars

We will investigate and explore the best route for solving the profound puzzles arising from the recent ground-truth detection of methane on Mars by the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) onboard Curiosity.

Venus Seismology

The goal of the study is to devise methods to determine the level of current seismic activity and constrain the global structure that would work in the severe environment of Venus.

Gazing at the Solar System: Capturing the Evolution of Dunes, Faults, Volcanoes and Ice from Space

The goals of this study program are to develop the science that can be teased out of spaceborne gazing, specific types of targets and applications, the resolution and spectral bands needed to achieve the science, and possible instrument configurations for future missions.

New Approaches to Lunar Ice Detection and Mapping

This study will develop innovative, low-cost mission concepts for detecting and mapping polar ice deposits on the Moon.

In Situ Science and Instrumentation for Primitive Bodies

The goal of this study is to develop new methods to test the radically new understanding of solar system formation that has recently emerged, and to identify innovative instrumentation targeted to this purpose.

Asteroid Return Mission Study

This program is conducted to investigate the feasibility of finding, characterizing, robotically capturing, and returning an entire Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) to the vicinity of the Earth.

xTerramechanics: Integrated Simulation of Planetary Surface Missions

This study will bring together key technical experts from across the U.S. to advance the study of such surface interactions, deepening our understanding of key mission life-cycle processes: formulation trades, design, mission operations, and in-situ science context and integration.

Future Missions to Titan: Scientific and Engineering Challenges

This program focuses on the potential to developing innovative ideas for future space missions based on the strategy of including a unique cross-fertilization of key experts from multi-institutional backgrounds.

Innovative Approaches to Exoplanet Spectra

The aim of this program is to take a fresh look at exoplanet characterization science from the point of view of new instruments that could do breakthrough science or that could pave the way for the next generation of space missions.

Innovative Approaches to Planetary Seismology

The goal of this study is to bring together scientists and engineers to discuss the planetary structure and seismological approaches. The outcome of the program will be a critical assessment of whether there are new directions to develop, or existing directions in need of technological impetus.

New Directions in Robotic Exploration of Mars

The aim of this program is to analyze the findings from the recent exploration of the surface of Mars.

Mission Concepts for Accessing and Sampling High-Risk Terrain

The goal of this workshop is to explore new potential mission concepts for the exploration of high-risk planetary surfaces.


Interstellar Comets – Visitors from Another Solar System – Natural or Artificial?

September 14, 2021
Speaker: Dr. Karen Meech - University of Hawai’i

OSIRIS-REx Sample Return from Asteroid Bennu

November 30, 2020
Speaker: Dr. Dante Lauretta - Principal Investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission; Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

FARSIDE: A Probe-Class Mission to Place a Radio Telescope on the Lunar Farside

October 19, 2020
Speaker: Professor Gregg Hallinan - Caltech

Lunar Trailblazer - A Caltech-led Pioneering Small Satellite for Lunar Water and Lunar Geology

August 10, 2020
Speaker: Bethany Ehlmann - Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Seeking Signs of Ancient Life in Jezero Crater with the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

July 29, 2020
Speaker: Dr. Katie Stack Morgan - JPL/Caltech

Exploring Jupiter

October 28, 2019
Speaker: Dr. Candice Hansen-Koharcheck - The Planetary Science Institute

Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor (EELS) Robotic Architecture

July 15, 2019
Speakers: Kalind Carpenter and Morgan Cable, JPL

The Interstellar Age

February 22, 2018
Speaker: Professor Jim Bell - Arizona State University

Looking for Life As (we think) We Know It: Enceladus and Europa

September 16, 2015
Speaker: Jonathan Lunine - Cornell University

Fire and Ice: Exploring Volcanoes on Earth and the Solar System

May 14th, 2015
Speaker: Rosaly M. C. Lopes, Senior Research Scientist, Manager for Planetary Science NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Near-Earth Asteroids: Stepping Stones to an Interplanetary Civilization

August 12, 2014
Speaker: Dr. Stanley Love, NASA Astronaut and Asteroid Scientist

New Frontiers of Planetary Seismology

June 3, 2014
Speaker: Pr. Philippe Lognonné, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Université Paris Diderot-Sorbonne Paris Cité, France

The Future of Human Spaceflight

April 8, 2014
Moderator: Louis Friedman, The Planetary Society

How to Select a Landing Site on Mars

July 08, 2013
Speaker: Dr. Matt Golombek, Mars Exploration Program Landing Site Scientist, JPL

Unraveling the Mysteries of Titan Using Lab on a Chip

June 19, 2013
Speaker: Dr. Morgan Cable, NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Exploring Mars, the Moon, Asteroids, and Comets with Rovers and Landers

February 20, 2013
Speaker: Professor Jim Bell, Arizona State University

Venus: Earth's Evil Twin or Just Misunderstood?

November 5, 2012
Speaker: Dr. Suzanne Smrekar, JPL

Exploring Protoplanets Through the Dawn Mission

May 2, 2012
Speaker: Dr. Carol Raymond, JPL/Caltech

Landing on Mars (do not try this at home)

April 11, 2012
Speaker: Rob Manning, Chief Engineer, Mars Science Laboratory, JPL

Moving An Asteroid

September 28, 2011
Moderator: Dr. Louis Friedman, Executive Director Emeritus of The Planetary Society and Co-Leader of the Keck Institute Asteroid Retrieval Mission Study

Many Suns, Many Worlds: The Galactic Quest for Exoplanets

October 4, 2010
Speakers: Professor Eric Ford, University of Florida; Professor Jason Wright, Pennsylvania State University; Professor Natalie Batalha, San Jose State university; Dr. Mark Swain, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Titan: A Strange Yet Familiar New World

May 26, 2010
Speaker: Oded Aharonson, Associate Professor of Planetary Science, Caltech

Innovative Approaches to Planetary Seismology

March 17, 2010
Speaker: Professor Laurent Gizon, Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung

The Human and Scientific Tale of Galileo

November 19, 2009
Speaker: Professor Alberto Righini, University of Firenze

Co-Sponsored Events