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.