Dr. Mike Sori, Purdue University

Gravity Science and Geology from Orbiting Spacecraft at the Moon, Mars, and Beyond
February 11, 2022


The careful tracking of spacecraft orbiting other planets allows for inference of the gravity fields of those worlds. With enough precision, these gravity fields can be used to study not only the deep interiors of planets, but also their geology, crustal structure, and surface features. In this talk, I will present recent research from our group at Purdue that uses gravity data collected by orbiting spacecraft to study the geology of the Moon and Mars. At the Moon, I will describe how data from NASAʼs dedicated gravity mission GRAIL can be used to quantify the porosity distributed throughout the lunar crust that is created by crater-forming impacts. At Mars, I will show that gravity data can be used to test for the presence of buried ice sheets. Finally, I will discuss prospects for the future of gravity science in the Solar System and identify the most compelling paths forward for spacecraft mission architectures that use gravity and geodesy to address the highest priority questions in planetary science.


Dr. Mike Sori

Assistant Professor and planetary scientist at Purdue University who received his bachelor's degrees from Duke University in mathematics and physics in 2008 and his Ph.D. from MIT in planetary science in 2014. His research group at Purdue studies the solid planets and moons across our Solar System from a geophysical perspective. Particular interests are in planetary interiors, volcanism and cryovolcanism, and planetary ices. His group studies these topics using data analyses of observations taken by NASA robotic spacecraft missions, interpreted using numerical simulations. Aside from planetary science, Mike enjoys travel and playing with his black lab Apollo.