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PlanetInsitu23: Workshops to enable planetary in situ investigations of active surface-atmospheric interactions

Presentation #317.01 in the session Future Missions and Instrumentations - Rocky Bodies, Atmospheres (Poster + Lightning Talk)

Published onOct 23, 2023
PlanetInsitu23: Workshops to enable planetary in situ investigations of active surface-atmospheric interactions

Aeolian sand and dust are known to significantly influence landscape evolution and climate across the solar system and could significantly impact future human exploration (e.g., biohazards, clogged seals, or interrupted operations), but many of the driving forces are not well-understood outside of terrestrial conditions. Brines and frost-related processes on planetary surfaces are also strongly connected to geologic and climate activity, as well as habitability studies, but many lack clear terrestrial analogues and thus have even more open questions. To validate and calibrate models describing these physical phenomena, correlated in situ observations of both the surface activity and near-surface/local environment are needed, beyond Earth. Such in situ data, providing ground truth for the models, also complements coarser-resolution orbit-based studies of geomorphology, stratigraphy, composition, and atmospheric properties that connect to the broader systems. Furthermore, understanding how a specific planet’s conditions affect the expression of a process guides our understanding of the fundamental (i.e., planet-agnostic) physics at work.

A community, aiming to collect observations of active physical processes on other planetary bodies, is growing amongst planetary and terrestrial scientists, instrument developers, and mission engineers. A workshop held in June 2022 [1] aimed to consolidate definition of the main in situ measurements needed to significantly advance scientific understanding of volatile, wind, sediment, and frost-driven processes that are shaping planetary surfaces. In 2023, two short follow-up workshops were organized in conjunction with the Ancient and Future Brines conference held in May 2023 [2] and the International Conference on Aeolian Research held in July 2023 [3]. This presentation will summarize results from the 2023 discussions and our next steps. Additionally, we solicit submissions to the Planetary Science Journal focus issue on “Towards in situ observations of planetary surface-atmosphere interactions” [4]. Interested folks are also encouraged to see or sign up for the mailing list at

NASA ROSES TWSC supported the 2023 PlanetInsitu workshops – thank you!

[1]; [2]; [3]; [4]

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