Planetary science covers studies of both bodies in this Solar System, and the several thousand exoplanets known in other planetary systems. Research typically focuses on determining the formation, structure, and evolution of these bodies, and how they interact with each other. Studies can cover anything from planets many times the mass of Jupiter to microscopic dust grains recovered from comets.Planets

Planetary data are acquired both by spacecraft and astronomical observations, and are often combined with sophisticated numerical models. Both theoretical and observational planetary science are major research focus areas at UCSC, involving faculty from the Astronomy, Applied Math and Statistics and Earth Planetary Science Departments. Much of this research is supported through the Center for the Origin and Dynamical Evolution of Planets.

Jonathan Fortney and Greg Laughlin study the atmosphere, structure, and dynamics of extra solarplanets, including transiting planets found by NASA's Kepler Mission. Steve Vogt is the leader of the Automated Planet Finder (APF) on Mt. Hamilton, which will detect low-mass planets around nearby stars. Francis Nimmo is concerned with the structures and evolution of bodies in this solar system, including asteroids and icy moons. Ian Garrick-Bethel studies the past and present geophysics of the moon and its remnant magnetic field, as well as novel space mission concepts. Doug Lin is an expert in the earliest stages of solar system history, and works on modeling planet formation in and out of the solar system. Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz studies the tidal disruption of fluidbodies to model a wide range of strong tidal encounters with gaseous planets. Andy Skemer images planets in the bright glare of their host stars with the goal of understanding their bulk properties, and relationship to planets in our Solar System.

Convective motions in the interiors of stars and planets are complex, and understanding the physics of these motions often relies on sophisticated three-dimensionally modeling. These motions give rise the dynamo-generated magnetic fields of planets, and internal magnetic fields and gradients in composition certainly influence these motions. Pascale Garaud, and Nic Brummel all work on different aspects of these problems.

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