As a planetary scientist, access to data is almost exclusively limited to spacecraft. For studies of planetary landscapes and climates, and any changes or modifications related to volatile activity, close encounter spacecraft (e.g., landers and/or orbiters) are required. Participation in the operations and development of such missions is thus a large, and exciting part of my research. 

Plus, seeing a new world that no one in human history has seen is such a thrill – planetary missions are at the cutting edge of exploration and I’m so thankful have my small part!

Trident

Associate Team Member (2020 – Present)

Trident is a mission concept currently awaiting word on selection as part of NASA’s Discovery program. Trident would flyby Neptunes large moon Triton; a fascinating world that may have a subsurface ocean, and was observed by Voyager 2 to be spewing plumes 100’s of kilometers into the sky. Trident would image nearly all of Triton’s enigmatic surface at resolution far better than Voyager 2 while also acquiring spectral data that will finally tell us what its surface is made of. Trident also has all the instruments to detect the presence of a subsurface ocean and understand what makes its ionosphere so intense. Trident would be a terrific mission that has something to offer everyone, and I feel very fortunate to be part of this terrific team!

Dragonfly

Associate Team Member (2019 – Present)

Dragonfly is an aerial lander that will fly through Titan’s atmosphere, and land at multiple locations on its surface in the mid-2030’s. The mission includes the capability to explore diverse locations to characterize the habitability of Titan’s environment, to investigate how far prebiotic chemistry has progressed, and even to search for chemical signatures that could indicate water-based and/or hydrocarbon-based life.

CAESAR

Co-Investigator (January 2015 – Present)

CAESAR is a comet sample return mission that is being proposed as part of NASA’s New Frontiers 5 program. CAESAR will return to comet 67P and sample the surface of this ancient body. This sample will ground truth decades of cometary research, and CAESAR’s cameras will provide exquisite images that will finally reveal to us how these small worlds evolve.

 

Rosetta: OSIRIS

Graduate Student Collaborator (2017 – 2019)

Rosetta made the first rendezvous with a comet, orbiting comet 67P for over 2.5 years! Rosetta’s spectacular dataset has transformed our understanding of these small icy worlds, providing a clear pathway for the next generation of comet science.

 

Cassini RADAR Team

Associate Team Member (2016 – 2019)

Cassini orbited Saturn for 14 years, making 127 individual flybys of its largest moon, Titan. The RADAR was used to peer below Titan’s thick atmosphere, revealing the most fascinating world we’ve yet discovered. I was fortunate to be part of this amazing team during my PhD, and am happy to have played a small role in what was a tremendously successful team and mission!