Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is planetary sample science?
A: Planetary sample science involves the study and analysis of extraterrestrial samples collected from planets, moons, comets, and asteroids. Scientists examine these samples to gain insights into the origin, composition, and geological processes of these extraterrestrial bodies. The analysis of planetary samples provides valuable information about the history and evolution of our solar system.

Q: Where are the extraterrestrial samples from NASA sample return missions housed?
A: The Astromaterials Acquisition & Curation Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center is the home to all of NASA's astromaterials sample collections.

Q: How do I request samples for scientific study?
A: The process to request samples for study can be found on the Astromaterials Acquisition & Curation Office website.

Q: How will the LPI support NASA’s vital and growing sample science program?
A: The LPI’s ENComPSS (Expanding NASA’s Community of Planetary Sample Scientists) program will 1) develop and deliver targeted astromaterials curricula addressing the science of sample return missions, 2) host and lead training events that focus on the unique laboratory facilities and samples curated by ARES, 3) partner with astromaterials experts and laboratories to host workshops that expand and diversify the learner community, and 4) offer a visiting scientist program to support visitors and mentor student interns as they conduct research in planetary sample science at ARES and the LPI.

Sample Handling Training

Q: Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to participate in the sample handling training events?
A: U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals at U.S. institutions are welcome to apply. Due to security concerns, citizens of U.S. State Department Designated Countries are not eligible. Reference the Designated Countries List at this website:

Q: Do I need a planetary sample science background to participate?
A: Priority consideration will be given to candidates with demonstrated need and a strong likelihood of applying new knowledge and skills to research on NASA’s collections of astromaterials. Scientists, students, and early-career researchers from under-recognized and under-resourced institutions are encouraged to apply. Additionally, priority will be given to candidates whose research group does not have access to this training or experience at their institutions.

Q: What is the schedule for sample handling training events?
A: Visit Training Events for a complete list of events. The applicable deadlines for each training event are published on the Training Events page.

Q: Is travel support available for in-person training events?
A: Limited travel support may be available for researchers with a demonstrated need.

Q: Whom should I contact for additional information?
A: For inquiries regarding sample handling training, please email [email protected].

Visiting Scientist Program

Q: Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to participate in the Visiting Scientist Program?
A: No, the Visiting Scientist Program is open to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.

Q: What research facilities and equipment are available to visiting scientists?
A: The LPI hosts a variety of experimental and analytical equipment, facilities, and laboratories that are available to visiting scientists, including the LPI library and a high-performance computer lab.

Q: How do I access the astromaterials and labs at NASA JSC?
A: Researchers can submit proposals to use the NASA Facility for Astromaterials Research (NFAR).

Q: How long do visiting scientist appointments last?
A: The LPI is well-equipped to support visitors for terms from a few days (short-term) to several months (long-term).

Q: Is travel support available to visiting scientists?
A: Yes, the LPI will offer a limited number of travel stipends each year to visiting scientists who have been selected for NFAR awards.

Q: Where can I learn more about the LPI Summer Intern Program, including eligibility and application deadlines?
A: Visit the LPI Summer Internship Program to learn more.

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