The department's research in Planetary Geology ranges from the
analysis of surficial features and planetary tectonics to the internal
structure and core dynamics of planets and moons. Recent research has
included studies of cratering dynamics of Enceladus and the application
of mineral physics in understanding the distribution of mineral phases
that exist in planetary bodies. These studies provide fundamental
insight into the origin and evolution of the solar system, as well as
large-scale planetary structure and evolution.
Graduate students are trained in experimental, analytical,
spectroscopic, remote sensing, digital image processing and geochemical
laboratory techniques. This approach leaves them well prepared for
additional graduate study, or for a wide range of possible careers in
mineralogy, space science, remote sensing and data processing.
Paul Stoddard - Geomorphology and evolution of planetary surfaces
The department maintains a variety of analytical and computational
facilities to aid in the study of planetary geology. High pressure
geochemistry and petrology laboratories with piston cylinders and
diamond anvil cells are used to simulate the high temperature and
pressure conditions of planetary interiors, and GIS, Matlab and image
processing software are used to analyze high resolution satellite
imagery of planets and moons. Much of our geochemical research uses
synchrotron facilities at the Argonne National Laboratory, which is less
than an hour from the NIU campus.