Lunar and Planetary Institute

Science at LPI

The science at the Lunar and Planetary Institute is focused on the formation, evolution, and current state of our solar system through analysis of data and samples obtained through NASA's long history of missions and exploration.  Our current major research topics include the origin and evolution of the early solar system; petrology and geochemistry of planetary materials and volatiles; planetary interiors, volcanism, and tectonism; and impact cratering.

Research Foci

Lunar Science and Exploration
Resources to support the scientific research and exploration strategy of the Moon

Center for Lunar Science and Exploration
The Center for Lunar Science and Exploration is part of the NASA Lunar Science Institute and is designed to investigate lunar science issues, develop strategies for future lunar exploration, and train a new community of talent that will be needed to assure the success of the Constellation Program.

Staff Highlights

Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG)

Stopar J. was included in "The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Cornerstone Mission: A Synergistic Study of Fundamental Solar System Processes" as part of the LROC instrument team. The primary objective of the Cornerstone Mission is to study the fundamental processes recorded on the Moon, including contemporary changes, regolith evolution, impact cratering chronology, and evolution and timing of volcanism.

Published Paper

Matsuyama I., Nimmo F., Keane J.T., Chan N.H., Taylor G.J., Wiekzorek M.A., Kiefer W.S., and Williams J.G., (2016) “GRAIL, LLR, and LOLA constraints on the interior structure of the Moon,” Geophysical Research Letters 43, 8365-8375, doi:10.1002/2016GL069952.  

Lavoie T. and Spudis P.D. (2016) "The Purpose of Human Spaceflight and a Lunar Architecture to Explore the Potential of Resource Utilization", AIAA Space 2016, SPACE Conferences and Exposition, AIAA 2016-5526.

Needham A.W., Messenger S., Han J., Keller L.P., et al (2016) "Corundum–hibonite inclusions and the environments of high temperature processing in the early Solar System," Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 196, pages 18-38.

Kring D. work with the Chicxulub impact crater and its link with the extinction of dinosaurs was noted in a recent article, “Drilling to Doomsday", published in Discover Magazine, October 2016.

Conference Talk

Kiefer W., Mittlefehldt D.W. (2016) “An iron-rain model for core formation on asteroid 4 Vesta” at the Geological Society of America Conference, September 26,2016.


Stopar J. generated a web article on the LROC site that highlights some of her recent research efforts on the Lassell Massif, a lunar silicic volcano (published earlier this year in Ashley et al. 2016). The research described several morphologies (including the summit caldera and flow lobes) that are surface expressions of silicic eruptions and lava.

Review Panels

Kramer G. and Goodrich C. served on the NASA Postdoctoral Program Review Panel.

Kramer G. reviewed a manuscript for Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

Field Camp

Kring D. led his internationally-famous “Field Training and Research Program at Meteor Crater” in the first half of September.  The program involved 15 graduate students from 7 U.S. universities and 4 European universities.  His program was recently featured in a new book about Meteor Crater.

Public Outreach

Kiefer W. gave a talk on “A brief geological history of the Moon” for the Digistar Users Group (Planetarium Directors), at Lunar and Planetary Institute, September 20, 2016.

Kramer G. assisted a German Aerospace Center (DLR) Fellow, Amanda Nahm, advising intern, Valeria Chierici with her project to geologically mapping of portions of the lunar surface.

Kramer G. was a science advisor to a Science Fiction author, Schuyler Woods. Mr. Woods is currently researching for his upcoming book.


Kring D. and LPI post-doctoral researcher Schmieder M. toured a new exhibit, SpaceGuard Academy, that was installed at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The new exhibit describes the properties of near-Earth asteroids and the hazards they pose for Earth.  Kring D. provided some input for that exhibit and, after touring the final product, says it is very well done and recommends the exhibit for middle school and older students, including adults.


Kramer G. contributed four summaries of recent planetary science contributions for LPI's "Planetary News Round Up;"” Rosetta Prepares For Final Destination,” ”Martian Mantle Metamorphosis Makes Massive Mound,” and “Mercury: Tectonic Traits Tell Of Tightening Today Chemists Contemplate Curious Cloud Captured By Cassini.”

Kramer G. is leading a Specific Action Team to create a Lunar Capabilities Roadmap, as chartered by the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group.

Connect With Us!
LPI Email Newsletters