Characterizing Processes Past and Present through Remote Sensing of Planetary Surfaces

Nathan Stein, California Institute of Technology

Planetary surfaces preserve a record of the geologic processes that shape the evolution and habitability of planetary bodies. Much of our knowledge of these surfaces stems from remote sensing, which provides the capability to interrogate bodies throughout the solar system at a variety of spatial and temporal scales with a diverse range of instruments. This talk will highlight key results from the investigation of surface processes across the solar system at three different spatial scales, including: the characterization of ancient lacustrine environments on Mars, investigation of controls on the morphology of modern microbial mats in the Turks and Caicos, and the source of geologically recent brines on the dwarf planet Ceres. These studies are enabled by distinct imaging platforms onboard rovers, drones, and satellites. This talk will also delve into the prospects for drones to serve an increasingly important role in the future robotic exploration of planetary surfaces.