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Planetary Interiors

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UCLA scientists studying the interiors of planets study the interior structure of rocky planets, gas giants, or large satellites.  Their research includes the study of subsurface liquid water oceans and the planetary magnetic fields generated by rotating layers of molten rock deep within a planet or satellite.  Prof. Jonathan Aurnou and his colleagues at the UCLA SPINLab create experiments to replicate the small-scale fluid dynamics that occurs within planetary interiors and compares the results to numerical models.

Prof. Abby Kavner runs experiments to study the properties of minerals at extremely high temperatures and pressures such as those found in planetary interiors, and Prof. Jim McWilliams creates computational models for fluid flow.  Prof. Jean-Luc Margot has worked with NASA’s MESSENGER mission to determine the moment of inertia of Mercury, an important step towards determining the planet’s interior structure and composition, and is working on repeating the process for Venus.

Prof. Gerald Schubert‘s contributions to the field range from studies of mantle convection, the internal structure and magnetic field of the Moon and the Galilean satellites, and possible liquid water oceans in Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.  Prof. Edward Young helps undertake high pressure and temperature experiments on iron and magnesium.

Faculty

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Jonathan Aurnou Abby Kavner Jean-Luc Margot  Jim McWilliams
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Gerald Schubert  Ed Young

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