Exploring Planetary Conditions

Planetary sciences focus on the geological, chemical, and physical processes that shape environmental conditions on early Earth, other planets, and moons, as well as seek to understand whether those conditions could support life. A key aspect of this work is to identify essential biosignatures to advance the understanding of our solar system—and those that lie beyond it.

Folded Ediacaran strata along the Orange River, the river that separates Namibia from South Africa.
Folded Ediacaran strata along the Orange River, the river that separates Namibia from South Africa.

Planetary sciences research in the Institute for Planets and Life (IPL) includes:

  • Analyzing planetary atmospheres, including early Earth, Titan, Europa, and exoplanets, to understand how atmospheric chemistry affects the habitability of a planet
  • Investigating the habitability of current or former ocean worlds (e.g., Mars, Europa, Enceladus, and Titan), including developing techniques to search for signs of extinct or extant life
  • Long-term stability and survivability of the Earth over geological timescales
  • Life under extreme conditions, including how organisms adapt to environmental conditions and the preservation of biosignatures
  • Planetary magnetic fields and dynamo theory, and their effects on planetary atmosphere and habitability

Planetary Science Researchers

Kate Craft
Senior Professional Staff Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Maya Gomes
Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins University
Chao He
Assistant Research Scientist Johns Hopkins University
Karl Hibbitts
Planetary Scientist Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Sarah Hörst
Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins University
Dana Hurley
Planetary Scientist Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Kevin Lewis
Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins University
Kathleen Mandt
Senior Professional Staff Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Kirby Daniel Runyon
Postdoctoral Research Scientist Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Abigail Rymer
Space Physicist Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Emmy Smith
Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins University
Sabine Stanley
Professor Johns Hopkins University
Darrell Strobel
Professor Johns Hopkins University
June Wicks
Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins University

For general questions and information, or to join our mailing list, please contact us:
astrobiology@jhu.edu