I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in the NASA Postdoctoral Program at Goddard Space Flight Center, in the Planetary Systems Laboratory (Code 693), working with Dr. Geronimo Villanueva.
I am interested broadly in planetary atmospheres, more specifically in aeronomy and atmospheric chemistry. My current research is focused on the atmosphere of Mars using data from the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) onboard the NASA Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission and the Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery (NOMAD) insrument on the ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).
I received a Doctorate and Master of Science in Planetary Sciences from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, where my advisor was Prof. Roger V. Yelle; a Master of Science in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, while working in the lab of Prof. Timothy J. Deming, where I synthesized polypeptides developed as biomolecular materials for, e.g., drug delivery; and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Dallas, where I synthesized organic polymers for, fabricated, and tested polymer solar cells with Prof. John P. Ferraris.
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We use MAVEN NGIMS data to investigate the composition of the Martian upper atmosphere, focusing on the variations of CO2, Ar, N2, O, He, and H2 with Martian local time, latitude, season, and temperature. We find large diurnal variations in the abundances of the lighter species: N2, O, He, and H2. Our measurements are the first vertical profiles and the first spatially- and temporally-resolved measurements of the H2 abundance on Mars.
We discovered substantial amounts of H2O in the upper atmosphere of Mars, around 150 km above the surface, throughout the Martian year. The upper atmospheric water abundance peaks when Mars is closest to the Sun during summer in its southern hemisphere. Martian dust storms, including the 2018 global storm which put the Opportunity rover out of commission, are a sudden splash of water into the upper atmosphere. The classical process for delivery of hydrogen, in contrast, delivers a steady trickle of hydrogen to the upper atmosphere in the form of H2.
We derive neutral temperatures from Ar, CO2, and N2 abundances measured by MAVEN NGIMS over 1.5 Martian years. The temperature profiles cover an altitude range of 150 to roughly 300 km on nominal orbits. During Deep Dips, temperature profiles extend down to about 125 km, near the mesopause. We characterize thermospheric gradients and exospheric temperatures. The thermal structure of the Martian upper atmosphere is important for quantifying loss of the atmosphere to space.
Upcoming and past talks and posters.
I presented a poster entitled, "Transport of Water to the Martian Upper Atmosphere amid Regional and Global Dust Storms" in the Dust - Storms, Grains, Impact on Environment session at the Ninth International Conference on Mars in Pasadena, California.
I gave a talk on the transport of water to the upper atmosphere of Mars during dust storms in the Processes in the Present-Day Atmosphere of Mars II at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C.
At the 2018 Lunar and Planetary Laboratory Conference in Tucson, Arizona, I gave an invited talk on the Martian global dust storm of 2018 and its impact on the upper atmosphere as observed by MAVEN NGIMS.
At the 52nd ESLAB Symposium on Comparative Aeronomy and Plasma Environment of Terrestrial Planets in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, I presented on measurements of protonated ions from MAVEN NGIMS and the variation of H2 in the Martian upper atmosphere.
I presented on the thermal structure of the Martian upper atmosphere as observed by MAVEN NGIMS at the International Conference on Mars Aeronomy in Boulder, Colorado.