Greg Wilson
Planetary Geologist
Arizona State University & NASA Ames Research Center

Who I Am

Hello, my name is Greg Wilson and I am a planetary geologist. I am part of the Planetary Geology Group at Arizona State University, but work at NASA Ames Research Center's Planetary Aeolian Laboratory in Mountain View, California. I am primarily responsible for conducting geologic research in the Mars and Venus wind tunnels, but have also done a lot of work in support of the Mars Pathfinder mission.

What I Do

I have "gone all the way" in school, earning my B.S. degree in Soils from California State University, Fresno, and my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Soil Physics from Texas Tech University. Unlike most people working in the planetary geology field, I have no formal training in it. During graduate school I spent most of my time studying aeolian processes. Aeolian is defined as pertaining to the wind; especially said of rocks, soils and deposits (such as loess, dune sand and some volcanic tuffs) whose constituents were transported (blown) and laid down by atmospheric currents, or of landforms produced or eroded by the wind, or of sedimentary structures (such as ripple marks) made by the wind, or of geologic processes (such as erosion and deposition) accomplished by the wind.

It just so happens that aeolian processes are not limited to Earth, but are active on Mars and Venus, and possibly on one of Saturn's moons, Titan. You see, any planetary body that has a solid surface and a dynamic atmosphere has the potential for aeolian processes. And while these planets have different atmospheres, surface materials and gravitational accelerations, the physics governing aeolian processes are essentially the same (at least we hope!). To prove these theories and to try to understand the geologic history of these planetary bodies, we have built special wind tunnels that simulate the atmospheres and surface interactions of Mars and Venus. You can find more about these wind tunnels by visiting the Planetary Aeolian Laboratory.

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