As planetary scientists, 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 our 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 that we can participate as a group in these missions!
Associate Team Member (2020 – 2022)
Trident was a mission concept that ultimately was not selected for NASA’s Discovery program in 2021. Trident would have flown Neptune’s 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 have imaged nearly all of Triton’s enigmatic surface at resolution far better than Voyager 2 while also acquiring spectral data that would have finally told us what its surface is made of. Trident also had all the instruments to detect the presence of a subsurface ocean and understand what makes its ionosphere so intense. Trident would have been a terrific mission that has something to offer everyone, and I feel very fortunate to have been part of this terrific team. Plus, who knows, maybe we will get to Triton someday with an even more capable spacecraft!
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.
Co-Investigator (January 2015 – Present)
CAESAR is a comet sample return mission that was proposed as part of NASA’s New Frontiers 5 program (NF5) and is being re-proposed for the NF6 call. 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.
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.
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!