The Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is an academic institution that pursues scholarly research and education across the broad discipline of planetary and solar systems science through use of theoretical studies and data analysis, laboratory and field investigations, numerical modeling, telescopic observations, remote sensing, spacecraft instrumentation, and space mission development and operations.
Message from the Director
Welcome to the University of Arizona’s Department of Planetary Sciences (PtyS) and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL). The University of Arizona is one of the nation’s best research universities, annually ranking among the top in the nation in external financial support for research in the physical sciences.
Focus on Research
Planetary surfaces are influenced by their interior processes (e.g. volcanoes), exterior effects (e.g. impact cratering) and their atmospheres (e.g. wind and rain) and so can be incredibly informative when it comes to figuring out a planet’s history. The decade from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s saw the exploration of much of the inner solar system with the photography of surfaces of the Moon (including its unseen far-side), Mercury and Mars. LPL’s previous work on telescopic mapping of the lunar surface had left it well prepared to play leading roles in most of these missions and the interpretation of the data they returned. In the following decades, LPL continued contributing to the study of planetary surfaces around the solar system with cameras aboard the Mars Pathfinder mission, the Huygens lander on Saturn’s moon Titan and the operation of the Phoenix lander on Mars. The study of these surfaces has also grown in sophistication and now includes analysis of surface composition from remote spacecraft as well as analysis of returned samples here in the laboratory.Learn More