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Research Activities at IRSPS
IRSPS intends to be at the prime position in research excellence. In order to achieve this goal, a wide variety of research activities have been carried out day and night in the institute.
Earth is a planet. We study Earth from this point of view, which enables us to make comparisons with other planets and satellites. The geographic zones on Earth where we focus our investigations are in arid and/or cold climate that resemble that of Mars. They include Sahara Desert, Gobi Desert, Antarctica, Arctic, Siberia, and Alps. The topics of study are diverse, covering fluvial, lacustrine, eolian, glacial, and volcanic processes. The Ibn Battuta Centre, together with IRSPS and ASI (Italian Space Agency) supports such terrestrial analogue studies.
Mars is the main terrestrial planet of our investigations. It is a planet with geological and climatic conditions resembling those of Earth in many aspects. We have worked on diverse issues mostly in the fields of sedimentology and geomorphology. Examples of our research projects include paleo-hydrology (e.g., lacustrine, fluvial), eolian landforms, glacial/peri-glacial landscape, and impact cratering. Members of IRSPS have been involved in various Mars missions and their instrument teams (Mars Express, HRSC, MARSIS, SHARAD). One member of IRSPS is Principal Investigator of an X-ray diffractometer for future Mars missions.
Venus is a large terrestrial planet with complex geological processes. We have conducted research projects mainly in the fields of "channels and valleys" and tectonism. One member of IRSPS is involved in the Venus Express mission.
Titan is a large satellite of Saturn. It is a satellite where a hydrocarbon cycle in the surface environment is hypothesized. The cycle likely enables existence of carbon hydrates such as methane and ethane in the forms of solid, gas, and also liquid, resulting in the formation of lacustrine and fluvial features. The dense atmosphere has the capacity for eolian processes. One member of IRSPS is involved in the Cassini radar instrument team.
Planetary mapping is a basis of our research activities. This research approach assists greatly interpretations of geological processes on the planetary surfaces. IRSPS together with ASI runs a program in support of planetary mapping (PAGIS). A series of planetary geological maps is published by Bollettino della Societa Geologica Italiana.
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