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Three smiling people wearing high-visibility vests and helmets, standing in rugged terrain, with dark brown cliffs in the background.

GIFT: Goddard Instrument Field Team

Our Mission

GIFT Logo. Shows lunar and martian backgrounds separated by an astronaut glove holding a dark rock.

The Goddard Instrument Field Team (GIFT) is an internal scientist funding model (ISFM) work package at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Ames Research Center. GIFT enables interdisciplinary studies of planetary crustal development, modification, and potential to host habitable environments. GIFT science investigations research the development of planetary crusts (e.g., by magmatic and impact cratering processes) and environmental conditions that have acted on these crustal materials. GIFT scientists collect data during field expeditions to planetary analog sites. At these sites, GIFT explores interdisciplinary science questions and incorporates testing of science instruments comparable to instruments that are deployable on other planetary surfaces.

For the last decade, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has led and supported planetary analog field science campaigns focused on advancing fundamental research and testing new instrument technologies. Sustained investment (ROSES R&A, internal/strategic funding, and mission/project support) has driven integration between geology and astrobiology research efforts, developed a suite of field portable instruments, and supported testing of new concepts of operation. GIFT provides the agency and the science community with routine opportunities for partnership studies of planetary analog terrains and environments, enabling ground truth testing of research hypotheses developed from mission observations. The capabilities developed within GIFT are a resource unique to NASA.

Euler Diagram of GIFT foci. Includes a phrase 'From Field... To Flight'

GIFT Leadership Team

Central Leadership

GIFT Co-Leads: Jacob Richardson, Bethany Theiling

Data Management: David Hollibaugh Baker

Logistics and Public Engagement: Caela Barry

Past GIFT Co-Leads: Jacob Bleacher, Amy McAdam, Kelsey Young

2023 Expedition Leadership

Yasmina Martos (Field Lead)

Naoma McCall (Field Lead)

Heather Graham (Field Lead)

Bethany Theiling (Deputy Field Lead)

Stephen Scheidt (Deputy Field Lead)

2022 Expedition Leadership

Patrick Whelley

Cherie Achilles

Jacob Richardson

Field Work Community Resources

Joint Field Code of Conduct and Joint Field Bill of Rights

The following resources are jointly developed and maintained by the Goddard Instrument Field Team (GIFT) and two nodes of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI):

  • Geophysical Exploration Of the Dynamics and Evolution of the Solar System (GEODES)
  • Remote, In-Situ, and Synchrotron Studies for Science and Exploration (RISE2)

These are living documents. Below are sample versions of each resource, last updated May 2022:

Template Field Code of Conduct

Acknowledgments: Earlier versions of this Code of Conduct were written and field-tested by the Goddard Instrument Field Team. The current revision also draws inspiration from the Codes of Conduct laid out by the Western Wildfire Experiment for Cloud Chemistry, Aerosol Absorption, and Nitrogen (WE-CAN) and the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS).

Template Field Bill of Rights

Acknowledgments: Our Field Bill of Rights is inspired by a similar document from the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists.

Field Safety Plans

Field Safety Plans are site- and task-specific. Following are two examples of safety plans created for field work at distinct locations. For general recommendations, please see Building Safer and More Inclusive Field Experiences in Support of Planetary Science, Richardson, J.A. et al. (2020) NASEM Decadal Survey, White Paper #447.

Safety Plan for GIFT's 2021 Expedition to Iceland

Example of a safety plan written for field work in a remote location outside of the United States.

Safety Plan for GIFT's 2022 Expedition to Medicine Lake, CA, USA

Example of a safety plan including wildfire considerations and protocol for working in caves.

Acknowledgments: The safety policies and strategies in the Field Safety Plan draw on our field leads' years of professional training and experience. The authors would like to acknowledge the University at Buffalo and Arizona State University Geology Field Camps, the National Outdoor Leadership School, The Red Cross and the Central Massachusetts Search and Rescue Team for inspiring safety in the field.

Additional Safety and Conduct Resources

Field Expedition Codes of Conduct for Increasing Safety and Inclusivity. Richardson, J.A. et al. (2020) Workshop on Terrestrial Analogs for Planetary Exploration, Abstract #8113.

Developing Community Resources to Promote Safety and Inclusivity in Field Work. Barry, C. et al. (2022) Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Abstract #2811.

Access GIFT Data

Data visualization showing cliff face contours in bright yellow, lime green, and burnt orange.

GIFT is partnering with the US Geological Survey to archive community-valued field data at GIFT Data Archive at USGS PlanetBase.

Additional Data References:

Towards a Terrestrial Analogs Data Portal: Use Cases and Requirements. Baker, D.M.H. et al. (2021) 5th Planetary Data and PSIDA, Abstract #2549.

Explore Planetary Analogs with GIFT

Side-by-side comparison of field researchers on Earth and an astronaut with a shovel on the Moon.

GIFT team members have volunteered as subject matter experts to help formulate a new NASA site presenting planetary analog research to the public:

NASA's Planetary Analogs Website | Analog Explorer Gallery

More about the Planetary Analogs Website

NASA's Planetary Analogs Website: Comparing Landscapes Throughout our Solar System. Barry, C. et al. (2021) Workshop on Terrestrial Analogs for Planetary Exploration, Abstract #2595.

Meet the Goddard Instrument Field Team

Person wearing a helmet, headlamp, and protective goggles, holding a portable science instrument up to a cave wall

Welcome to GIFT's world! This video gives an overview of the Goddard Instrument Field Team's work, including footage of field locations and equipment.