The Planetary Science Institute (PSI) is a research institute based in Tucson, Arizona, focusing on planetary science. Founded in 1972 on a non-profit basis, it is involved in many NASA missions, the study of Mars, asteroids, comets, interplanetary dust, the formation of the Solar System, extrasolar planets, the origin of life, and other scientific topics. It is now actively participating in the Dawn mission, scheduled to explore Vesta between 2011 and 2012, and Ceres in 2015. PSI manages the spacecraft's Gamma-Ray and Neutron Detector, which will map the surfaces of the two minor planets to determine how they were formed and evolved. The Institute's orbit@home is a distributed computing project through which the public can help in the search for near-Earth objects. The Institute is also involved in science education through school programs, popular science books and art. Its scientific Staff are distributed in 16 US states and in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Russia and Australia. Its present director (2009) is Dr. Mark V. Sykes.
Regional, not global, processes led to huge Martian floods
Gigantic groundwater outbursts created the largest flood channels in the solar system on Mars, 3.2 billion years ago. For many years it was thought that this was caused by the release of water from a global water table, but ...
Vesta's potassium-to-thorium ratio reveals hot origins
Studies of materials on the surface of Vesta offer new evidence that the giant asteroid is the source of howardite, eucrite and diogenite (HED) basaltic meteorites, supporting current models of solar system evolution and ...
Airless space weathering duplicated in lab environment
Using laboratory instruments typically used to make semiconductor devices, space weathering of airless bodies in the Solar System has been simulated, allowing researchers to better determine the ages of their surfaces, states ...
MARSDROP microprobes could expand spacecraft mission capabilities
Microprobes that piggyback on Mars-bound spacecraft could investigate areas currently unavailable to surface instruments, a Planetary Science Institute researcher said.
Two years on, source of Russian Chelyabinsk meteor remains elusive
Two years after a 20-meter rock slammed into the Earth after a meteoroid dramatically fragmented in the atmosphere over the Chelyabinsk region in Russia and injured hundreds of people, its parent asteroid remains elusive, ...
Other asteroids contributed elusive olivine to Vesta
Olivine should be one of the most abundant minerals on asteroid Vesta, but it remains elusive. Scientists working on NASA's Dawn mission to Vesta were initially thrilled to find few scattered remains of this enigmatic mineral ...
Russian meteorite sheds light on dinosaur extinction mystery
A long-standing debate about the source of the asteroid that impacted the Earth and caused the extinction of the dinosaurs has been put to rest thanks to the Chelyabinsk meteorite that disintegrated over Russia in February ...
Area on Mars reveals a surface modified by water over much of planet's history
A new geologic map of part of the ancient Martian highlands produced by Scott C. Mest and David A. Crown of the Planetary Science Institute provides new insights into the planet's history of water modifying the planet's surface.
Scientists study surface composition of asteroid 2004 BL86 during close flyby of Earth
Planetary Science Institute researchers Vishnu Reddy and Driss Takir studied the surface composition of near-Earth asteroid 2004 BL86 during its close flyby of Earth earlier this week.
Imager sends ultra high-res photo from Mars
(Phys.org) —An instrument aboard NASA's Curiosity rover has sent back to scientists on Earth an ultra high-resolution image of a penny the rover carried to Mars.