NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF AEROSPACE

Center for Planetary Dynamics

Center for Planetary Dynamics

The Center for Planetary Dynamics conducts scientific research into the evolution of the solid planetary bodies in the solar system.  Currently consisting of Hampton University Professor in residence William B. Moore, postdoctoral researcher Christian Hüttig, and Hampton University graduate students Melvin Amos, Duminda Kankanmange, and Nicole Pothier, the CPD pursues two research thrusts: planetary exploration and planetary dynamical modeling.  Planetary exploration involves the proposal, analysis, and development of mission and instrument concepts, and participation in the development of NASA priorities and programs.  Planetary Dynamical Modeling is the development and application of physical models to the dynamics of solid planetary bodies of the solar system.

Current research investigations include:

  • The origin of plate tectonics on Earth and pre-tectonic heat flow mechanisms.
  • How the Moon arrived at its unusual shape.
  • Why comet Holmes exhibits explosive bursts of activity every 19 or 20 orbits and what that tells us about its shape and rotation.
  • How the evolution of planetary atmospheres controls interior dynamics and whether Venus or Earth is a more likely atmospheric outcome.
  • The distortion of planetary bodies by convection currents and the consequences for heat flow and rotational dynamics.
  • Using imaging data to measure surface roughness of planetary bodies.
  • The evolution of porosity in icy bodies.

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