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FLaRe: Fundamental Laboratory Research

Co-Leads: Jamie Elsila and Jennifer Stern

The Fundamental Laboratory Research group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center explores the formation and evolution of our solar system and looks for signs of life beyond Earth. Scientists from disciplines including astrobiology and astrochemistry, planetary atmospheres, and planetary geology and geophysics comprise this group.

In collaboration with colleagues worldwide, these NASA researchers study the compositions of atmospheres, surfaces, and below the surfaces of planets and other cosmic bodies, including asteroids and comets.

Some researchers work in labs, probing extraterrestrial rock samples or mixing chemicals in custom-built chambers that reproduce the environments of moons and planets to identify the chemical signatures of habitability or life. Others glean insights from space observatories and Earth telescopes that help reveal the chemical and physical evolution of celestial bodies circling in the outskirts of our solar system, largely undisturbed over the billions of years of their existence. Finally, theorists and mathematical modelers help connect observations with lab discoveries to fill in the puzzle of our cosmic origins. In this process, they raise new science questions for future space-exploration missions to answer.