M. T. Zuber's research while affiliated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other places

Publications (961)

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The objective of the NASA Psyche mission gravity science investigation is to map the mass distribution within asteroid (16) Psyche to elucidate interior structure and to resolve the question of whether this metal-rich asteroid represents a remnant metal core or whether it is a primordial body that never melted. Measurements of gravity will be obtai...
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Changes in mass distribution affect the gravitational figure and reorient a planetary body’s surface with respect to its rotational axis. The mass anomalies in the present-day lunar gravity field can reveal how the figure and pole position have evolved over the Moon’s history. By examining sequentially each individual crater and basin, working back...
Preprint
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Growing evidence of the potential habitability of Ocean Worlds across our Solar System is motivating the advancement of technologies capable of detecting life as we know it – sharing a common ancestry or common physicochemical origin to life on Earth – or don’t know it, representing a distinct genesis event of life quite different than our one know...
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Plain Language Summary Radiation belts are regions in space filled with energetic charged particles trapped by a planetary magnetic field. To date, radiation belts were found around Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Understanding radiation belts is important because they can be hazardous to spacecraft. In addition, their emission, if det...
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The asteroid (16) Psyche may be the metal-rich remnant of a differentiated planetesimal, or it may be a highly reduced, metal-rich asteroidal material that never differentiated. The NASA Psyche mission aims to determine Psyche’s provenance. Here we describe the possible solar system regions of origin for Psyche, prior to its likely implantation int...
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Detailed mapping of topography is crucial for the understanding of processes shaping the surfaces of planetary bodies. In particular, stereoscopic imagery makes a major contribution to topographic mapping and especially supports the geologic characterization of planetary surfaces. Image data provide the basis for extensive studies of the surface st...
Article
Geodetic and geophysical investigations of the Galilean moon Callisto address fundamental questions regarding the formation and evolution of the Jovian system. Callisto's evolution and internal structure appear to significantly differ from the other Jovian satellites. Similarly-sized Ganymede is a highly evolved ice-rock moon with a differentiated...
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The lunar cratering record is used to constrain the bombardment history of both the Earth and the Moon. However, it is suggested from different perspectives, including impact crater dating, asteroid dynamics, lunar samples, impact basin-forming simulations, and lunar evolution modelling, that the Moon could be missing evidence of its earliest crate...
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We report the development of a new type of space lidar specifically designed for missions to small planetary bodies for both topographic mapping and support of sample collection or landing. The instrument is designed to have a wide dynamic range with several operation modes for different mission phases. The laser transmitter consists of a fiber las...
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Advances in origins of life research and prebiotic chemistry suggest that life as we know it may have emerged from an earlier RNA World. However, it has been difficult to reconcile the conditions used in laboratory experiments with real-world geochemical environments that may have existed on the early Earth and hosted the origin(s) of life. This ch...
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In this work, we examine variations in the mantle uplift associated with large lunar impact craters and basins between major terranes. This study is based on Bouguer gravity anomalies of 100–650‐km diameter impact craters using Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) observations and the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) crater database...
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Enterococcus faecalis is a multidrug resistant, opportunistic human pathogen and a leading cause of hospital acquired infections. Recently, isolates have been recovered from the air and surfaces onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Pangenomic and functional analyses were carried out to assess their potential impact on astronaut health. Ge...
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Abstract We present the results of the first series of successful two-way laser ranging experiments from a ground station, the Lunar Laser Ranging (LLR) station in Grasse, France, to a spacecraft at lunar distance, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). A 15 × 18 × 5 cm, 650-g array of twelve 32-mm diameter solid corner cubes is mounted on its ant...
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We present new high-resolution topographic models of 4 high-priority lunar south pole landing sites based exclusively on the laser altimetry data acquired by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. By iteratively adjusting the LOLA tracks to the LOLA-based digital elevation model (LDEM) in a self-consisten...
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Nanopore sequencing, as represented by Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ MinION, is a promising technology for in situ life detection and for microbial monitoring including in support of human space exploration, due to its small size, low mass (~100 g) and low power (~1 W). Now ubiquitous on Earth and previously demonstrated on the International Space...
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Some years ago, the consensus was that asteroid (16) Psyche was almost entirely metal. New data on density, radar properties, and spectral signatures indicate that the asteroid is something perhaps even more enigmatic: a mixed metal and silicate world. Here we combine observations of Psyche with data from meteorites and models for planetesimal form...
Preprint
Full-text available
Advances in origins of life research and prebiotic chemistry suggest that life as we know it may have emerged from an earlier RNA World. However, it has been difficult to reconcile the conditions used in laboratory experiments with real-world geochemical environments that may have existed on the early Earth and hosted the origin(s) of life. This ch...
Article
Full-text available
We present our latest high‐resolution lunar gravity field model of degree and order 1200 in spherical harmonics using Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) data. In addition to a model with the standard spectral Kaula regularization constraint, we determine models by applying a constraint based on topography called rank‐minus‐one (RM1)....
Preprint
Full-text available
Nanopore sequencing, as represented by Oxford Nanopore Technologies' MinION, is a promising technology for in situ life detection and for microbial monitoring including in support of human space exploration, due to its small size, low mass (~100 g) and low power (~1W). Now ubiquitous on Earth and previously demonstrated on the International Space S...
Article
Full-text available
A set of small and lightweight laser retro-reflector arrays (LRAs) was fabricated and tested for use on lunar landers under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Service program. Each array contains eight 1.27-cm-diameter corner cube retro-reflectors mounted on a dome-shaped aluminum structure. The arrays are 5.0 cm in diameter at the base, 1.6 cm in hei...
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We applied localized gravity/topography admittance and correlation analysis, as well as the Markov chain Monte Carlo method, to invert for loading and flexural parameters of 21 subregions on Mars with five distinct tectonic types. The loading styles of the five tectonic types are distinct: The surface and subsurface loading in the polar and plain r...
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We present the results of a 2‐year‐long systematic campaign to monitor the lunar dust exosphere for enhancements in dust concentration at altitudes <20 km both during and outside of major meteor stream periods. We utilize the radiometric capabilities of the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter Laser Ranging telescope onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbit...
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Ceres is a 940-km-diameter dwarf planet that is predominantly composed of silicates and water ice. In Ceres’ partially differentiated interior, extrusive processes have led to the emplacement on its surface of domes with heights of kilometres. Here we report the analysis of a gravity anomaly detected by the Dawn spacecraft, which is associated with...
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Recent studies regarding the origins of life and Mars-Earth meteorite transfer simulations suggest that biological informational polymers, such as nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), have the potential to provide unambiguous evidence of life on Mars. To this end, we are developing a metagenomics-based life-detection instrument which integrates nucleic aci...
Conference Paper
The precise estimation of helio- and fundamental physics parameters is essential for an accurate modeling of the solar system. The enhancement of radio tracking performances will enable unprecedented measurements of celestial mechanics, approaching the ultimate limits attainable with a single planetary mission. We report in this study the results o...
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The South Pole‐Aitken basin is a gigantic impact structure on the far side of the Moon, with an inner rim extending approximately 2,000 km in the long axis dimension. The structure and history of this basin are illuminated by gravity and topography data, which constrain the subsurface distribution of mass. These data point to the existence of a lar...
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Geodetic analysis of radio tracking measurements of the MESSENGER spacecraft while in orbit about Mercury has yielded new estimates for the planet's gravity field, tidal Love number, and pole coordinates. The derived right ascension (α = 281.0082° ± 0.0009°; all uncertainties are 3 standard deviations) and declination (δ =61.4164° ± 0.0003°) of the...
Conference Paper
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Future space instruments will explore increasingly complex questions about our universe, including the origin of life on Earth and the presence of life elsewhere. These instruments will likely integrate chemical and biological subsystems that will face unique challenges; existing protocols typically require non-stabilized components and manual hand...
Article
Multiring basins dominate the crustal structure, tectonics, and stratigraphy of the Moon. Understanding how these basins form is crucial for understanding the evolution of ancient planetary crusts. To understand how preimpact thermal structure and crustal thickness affect the formation of multiring basins, we simulate the formation of lunar basins...
Article
GRAIL gravity data shows small-scale gravity anomalies radiating out from the Orientale basin between distances of ∼550 km (average distance to the Cordillera ring) and ∼1000 km. These radial gravity lineations are sometimes associated with secondary crater chains or catenae, of which the specific details of formation and their relation to the basi...
Article
We present a high-resolution global shape model of Ceres determined using the stereophotoclinometry technique developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory by processing Dawn's Framing Camera data acquired during Approach to post-Low Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO) phases of the mission. A total of about 38,000 images were processed with pixel resolutio...
Conference Paper
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)defines life as a “self-sustaining chemical System capable of Darwinian evolution,”yet a NASA-developed ladder of life detection suggests that measuring such evolution is not feasible within the resource constraints of currently-envisioned life detection missions. If true, such missions cannot...
Article
The Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has collected nearly seven billion measurements of surface height on the Moon with an absolute accuracy of ∼1 m and a precision of ∼10 cm. Converting time-of-flight laser altimeter measurements to topographic elevations requires accurate knowledge of the laser po...
Conference Paper
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We study LOLA derived normal albedo as a function of Diviner maximum temperature, to see if lunar permanently shadowed regions cold enough (<110K) to preserve surface water frost over geologic timescales show increased reflectance.
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Based on Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) observations and the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) crater database, we constrain the spatial variations in the Moon's crustal porosity (ϕc) to a depth of several kilometers using the gravity anomalies of 4,864 midsized craters (those with a diameter of 20–100 km). For each crater, we...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent studies regarding the origin of life and Mars-Earth meteorite transfer simulations suggest that biological informational polymers, such as nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), have the potential to provide unambiguous evidence of life on Mars. To this end, we are developing a metagenomics-based life-detection instrument which integrates nucleic acid...
Article
Flooding of the lunar surface by ancient mare basalts has rendered uncertain the ages of lunar geochemical terranes and several impact basins. Here we combine craters having recognizable surface expressions with craters identified only by their gravitational signatures in Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory data to reassess the chronological s...
Article
The detection of extant life is a major focus of many planned future planetary missions, a current challenge of which is the ability to target biomarkers capable of providing unambiguous evidence of life. DNA sequencing is increasingly recognized as a powerful tool for life detection for planetary exploration missions; beyond use of sequence inform...
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Background: Long-read nanopore sequencing technology is of particular significance for taxonomic identification at or below the species level. For many environmental samples, the total extractable DNA is far below the current input requirements of nanopore sequencing, preventing "sample to sequence" metagenomics from low-biomass or recalcitrant sa...
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The scale of the solar system is slowly changing, likely increasing as a result of solar mass loss, with additional change possible if there is a secular variation of the gravitational constant, G. The measurement of the change of scale could provide insight into the past and the future of the solar system, and in addition a better understanding of...
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The lunar highlands are isostatically compensated at large horizontal scales, but the specific compensation mechanism has been difficult to identify. With topographic data from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter and gravity data from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, we investigate support of highland topography. Poor correlation between...
Article
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The NASA MESSENGER mission explored the innermost planet of the solar system and obtained a rich data set of range measurements for the determination of Mercury's ephemeris. Here we use these precise data collected over 7 years to estimate parameters related to general relativity and the evolution of the Sun. These results confirm the validity of t...
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Parabolic flights provide cost-effective, time-limited access to "weightless" or reduced gravity conditions experienced in space or on planetary surfaces, e.g. the Moon or Mars. These flights facilitate fundamental research - from materials science to space biology - and testing/validation activities that support and complement infrequent and costl...
Article
The Orientale basin is the youngest and best-preserved multiring impact basin on the Moon, having experienced only modest modification by subsequent impacts and volcanism. Orientale is often treated as the type example of a multiring basin, with three prominent rings outside of the inner depression: the Inner Rook Montes, the Outer Rook Montes, and...
Article
Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt (940 km diameter), provides a unique opportunity to study the interior structure of a volatile-rich dwarf planet. Variations in a planetary body's subsurface rheology and density affect the rate of topographic relaxation. Preferential attenuation of long wavelength topography (≥150 km) on Ceres suggests...
Article
Ceres is the largest body in the asteroid belt with a radius of approximately 470 km. In part due to its large mass, Ceres more closely approaches hydrostatic equilibrium than major asteroids. Pre-Dawn mission shape observations of Ceres revealed a shape consistent with a hydrostatic ellipsoid of revolution. The Dawn spacecraft Framing Camera has b...
Article
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been orbiting the Moon since 2009, obtaining unique and foundational datasets important to understanding the evolution of the Moon and the Solar System. The high-resolution data acquired by LRO benefit from precise orbit determination (OD), limiting the need for geolocation and co-registration tasks. The i...
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Life can persist under severe osmotic stress and low water activity in hypersaline environments. On Mars, evidence for the past presence of saline bodies of water is prevalent and resulted in the widespread deposition of sulfate and chloride salts. Here we investigate Spotted Lake (British Columbia, Canada), a hypersaline lake with extreme (>3 M) l...