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


Zuber M., Kiefer W., McGovern, et al (2016) “Gravity field of the Orientale basin from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission," Science 354, 438-441. Article is featured on the LPI website GRAIL Gravity Observations Reveal Structure of Lunar Impact Basins.

Kring D., Kramer G.Y., Collins G.S., Potter R.W.K., and Chandnani M. (2016) “Peak-ring structure and kinematics from a multi-disciplinary study of the Schrödinger impact basin,” Nature Communication 7, Article number: 13161.  doi:10.1038/ncomms13161.

Bamford R.A., Alves E.P., Cruz F., Kramer G., et al (2016) “3D Pic Simulations of Collisionless Shocks at Lunar Magnetic Anomalies and Their Role in Forming Lunar Swirls.The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 830, Number 2.


Kring D., Kiefer W., Spudis P., Kramer G., and Stopar J. attended the  Lunar Exploration Analysis Group meeting at USRA Headquarters.

Kring D. described potential instrumentation and objectives for astronauts flying on NASA’s new Orion crew vehicle in cis-lunar space.


Stopar J. was a guest speaker and gave a lecture on "Young Lunar Volcanism" at Arizona State University for Prof. Mark Robinson's Planetary Geology undergraduate class, her titles of her talks were "Irregular Mare Patches (IMPs): An Unusual (Young?) Style of Lunar Volcanism" and "Did volcanism really end ~1Ga?"

Spudis P., presented public lecture, "The Value of the Moon" as part of LPI Cosmic Explorations Series on October 6 at USRA/LPI Houston.

Kiefer W. gave 2 public outreach talks, “What’s Up on the Moon Tonight” and “A Trip to the Moon," for the International Observe the Moon Night, held at LPI on October 8.


October 14, 2016 Spudis P. was interviewed and storied by Voice of America titled To Get to Mars, Head for the Moon.

On October 7th, McGovern P. I was quoted by Nature Correspondent, Alexandra Witze, article  titled "NASA rethinks approach to Mars exploration."  Regarding a suggestion floated at the October MEPAG meeting that NASA could move to an “observatory” type model for procuring and operating instruments on spacecraft orbiting and landed on Mars.

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