Current and Future Planetary Geology Studies on Mars and the Moon

by Dr. Peter J. Mouginis-Mark, Director of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, USA


In the past decade, there have been several new orbiters and landers that have investigated the geology of the Moon and Mars.
Missions such as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have provided some fascinating new insights into the geologic history of these worlds; ultra-high resolution orbital cameras now permit mapping at a scale that is appropriate for surface investigations, and multi-spectral imagers and topographic instruments allow process-related investigations of craters, volcanoes, and plains units to be conducted. Some examples of these on-going investigations will be presented for both Mars and the Moon. However, there are still many opportunities for small missions to these worlds that could be accomplished with relatively small orbiters or landers that would contribute to the ultimate goal of site selection and analysis at new landing sites. Some examples of the pressing issues for Mars, as well as potential lunar missions focused on resolving parts of the volcanic history of the Moon, will also be discussed.