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Planetary In Situ Surface-Atmosphere Interactions


Encouraging and developing a scientific and engineering community focused on the in situ exploration of planetary surface-atmosphere interactions.

Our goals

The interaction between the surface and atmosphere plays a critical role in current atmospheric, climate, and geological phenomena while also control the creation of the geological record that provides a time machine with which we can explore the history of a planetary body. This is true of all worlds with solid surfaces, whether terrestrial or icy. We are an informal, grass-roots community promoting the ongoing research into surface-atmospheric interactions. We have a specific focus on past, current, and future in situ observations of surface-atmosphere interactions. Our goals are:

  • to improve our understanding of the physics, chemistry, and biology of surface-atmosphere interactions, using past and current observations;
  • to identify, develop, and implement new in situ measurement technologies, including instrument and spacecraft technology;
  • to promote the value of this research to NASA, with the hopes that we will see future missions focused on the in situ observations needed to investigate surface-atmosphere in situ science.
Aeolian activity in the Kelso Dunes.

Aeolian Processes

Aeolian processes involve the movement of sand, dust, and any other granular material across a world’s surface and into its atmosphere. These processes can shape the morphology of a world’s surface and impact the climate.

Ice in the near-sub-surface of Mars.

Volatile Transport

Volatiles, such as water and carbon dioxide, can convert between solid, liquid, and gas under some planetary conditions. These substances move back and forth between a world’s surface and its atmosphere, impacting the near-surface environment and even its habitability.

NASA’s artist concept of electrically charge dust.

Other processes

Near-surface processes interact with and bear upon many other atmospheric and surface processes at a variety of temporal and spatial scales. For example, regional dust storms on Mars super-charge the global loss of water from the atmosphere.