Planetary Science Institute
Founded in 1972 on a non-profit basis, it is involved in many NASA missions, the study of Mars, asteroids, comets, interplanetary dust, the formation of the Solar System, extrasolar planets, the origin of life, and other scientific topics.
It is now actively participating in the Dawn mission, scheduled to explore Vesta between 2011 and 2012, and Ceres in 2015.
PSI manages the spacecraft's Gamma-Ray and Neutron Detector, which will map the surfaces of the two minor planets to determine how they were formed and evolved.
Its scientific Staff are distributed across 16 US states and in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Russia, Australia, and South Africa.
Its present director (2009) is Dr. Mark V. Sykes.