Why Planetary Materials?

Planetary materials are those pieces of condensed matter that were leftover from the time that our solar system formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Such materials include interplanetary dust particles, presolar grains, primitive meteorites, and soils from the moon and asteroids. The planetary materials research group (PMRG) at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory studies the constituent minerals within such samples at scales ranging from micrometers down to the atomic. We use information on crystal structure and chemistry to understand the conditions under which such minerals formed and those processes that led to their formation and alteration either in the early solar system or the circumstellar environments of ancient stars.