Our department has a number of associated research groups active in planetary science, primarily studying the upper atmospheres and ionospheres of planets and moons.

We use ground-based telescopes, including a dedicated facility at the McDonald Observatory in Texas, sub-orbital rocket experiments, space-based telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, and spacecraft, including Mars Express and MAVEN, to explore these environments. We also develop computational models to test theories for how these environments behave.

Faculty with Related Research

  • John Clarkeplanetary atmospheres, UV astrophysics, FUV instruments for remote observations
  • Chuanfei Dongstar-terrestrial planet interactions in our solar system and beyond; magnetic reconnection and turbulence; wave-particle interaction; physics-informed machine learning; high intensity laser-plasma interaction
  • Wen Lispace plasma waves, Earth’s magnetospheric physics, solar-wind magnetosphere coupling, energetic particle precipitation, Jovian magnetosphere and aurora
  • Carlos Martinisionospheric physics, space physics, thermosphere/ionosphere plasma irregularities
  • Michael Mendillospace physics, planetary atmospheres, observations and models
  • Luke Mooremodeling and observations of planetary atmospheres, with a focus on the upper atmospheres of the giant planets and on the coupling between atmospheres and the space environment
  • Paul Withersthe behaviour of the martian upper atmosphere and ionosphere, analysis of accelerometer data