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MESSENGER Science Team

MESSENGER's Science Team consists of experts in all fields of planetary science, brought together by their ability to complete the science investigations conducted by MESSENGER. The team is divided into four disciplinary groups: (1) Geochemistry, (2) Geology, (3) Geophysics, and (4) Atmosphere and Magnetosphere, with each team member given responsibility for implementation of a particular part of the mission's science plan.

Sean C. Solomon Sean C. Solomon, Principal Investigator
Columbia University

Sean Solomon, the Director of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory since July 2012, has been on the science teams for the Magellan, Mars Global Surveyor, and GRAIL missions. He served as Director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington for 19 years. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a past president of the American Geophysical Union. As the MESSENGER Principal Investigator, he has overall responsibility for all aspects of the mission.
Larry R. Nittler Larry R. Nittler
Carnegie Institution of Washington

Larry Nittler, a cosmochemist in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, has led investigations of samples returned by NASA's Stardust and Genesis missions. His analysis of measurements from the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission helped provide the first chemical analyses of a minor planet. In addition to remote-sensing geochemical measurements, his research focuses on the laboratory study of extraterrestrial materials, including meteorites and interplanetary dust particles, to understand the formation of the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe. As the MESSENGER Deputy Principal Investigator, he supports and acts on behalf of the Principal Investigator.


Mario H. Acuña
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

An expert in planetary magnetic fields who was involved in many space missions, Mario Acuña contributed to the development of the Magnetometer (MAG) and the analysis of MAG observations from MESSENGER's first two flybys of Mercury. The MESSENGER team was deeply saddened by Mario's death on 4 March 2009. His contributions to the mission continue.
Brian J. Anderson

Brian J. Anderson
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Brian Anderson specializes in the dynamics of space plasmas and planetary magnetic fields. He will provide scientific direction to the operation of the Magnetometer (MAG) instrument in orbit and lead aspects of the scientific analysis of its data to identify and quantify magnetospheric contributions to the observations and to recover the structure of Mercury's internal magnetic field. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.

Daniel N. Baker
University of Colorado

Daniel Baker is an expert on the interactions among planetary magnetic fields, atmospheres, and the solar wind. He will lead the characterization of magnetospheric processes using Magnetometer (MAG), Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS), and Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS) data. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.
Mehdi Benna

Mehdi Benna
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Mehdi Benna specializes in plasma physics and planetary magnetosphere dynamics. He will develop models for Mercury’s magnetospheric structure and participate in the analysis of charged particle and magnetic field measurements from the Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS) and the Magnetometer (MAG). Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       
David Blewett

David T. Blewett
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

David Blewett specializes in remote sensing and geological studies of the Moon and Mercury. He will use the detailed spectral information provided by the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) to define spectral parameters that can be mapped using images collected by the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS). Member of the Geochemistry and Geology Groups. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

William V. Boynton
University of Arizona

William Boynton's background spans many disciplines of planetary science. He is a pioneer in compositional analysis from gamma-ray spectroscopy. He aided in the development of the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) and X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS), and he will lead the analysis of geochemical remote sensing measurements. Member of the Geochemistry Group.
       
N. Chabot

Nancy L. Chabot
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Nancy Chabot is the Instrument Scientist for the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) and contributes to the development of the mission's imaging campaigns. She leads MDIS-based scientific investigations of Mercury's polar, radar-bright, ice-bearing craters. She is chair of the Geology Group.

Clark R. Chapman
Southwest Research Institute

Clark Chapman is an expert on impact cratering and has been involved in studies of asteroids, Mercury, the Moon, and the satellites of Jupiter. He will lead the analysis of Mercury's crater record and participate in the analysis of Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) and Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) spectral observations. Member of the Geology Group.

       

Andrew F. Cheng
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Andrew Cheng studies planetary magnetospheres and how they interact with surfaces and atmospheres. He will lead the analysis of how Mercury's magnetosphere and surface interact, using Magnetometer (MAG), Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS), and Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) data. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.

B. Denevi

Brett W. Denevi
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Brett Denevi studies the geology and composition of the Moon, Mercury, and asteroids using multispectral imaging and spectroscopy. Along with analyzing Mercury's crustal evolution, she provides scientific direction to the operation of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS). She is deputy chair of the Geology Group.

       
Deborah L. Domingue
Planetary Science Institute

Deborah Domingue's area of expertise is in the study of planetary surfaces through remote sensing data. She will lead the analysis of Mercury's photometric properties as a geological mapping tool and will participate in the geological and geochemical interpretation of surface images and spectrometry. Member of the Geology and Geochemistry Groups.
Larry G. Evans

Larry G. Evans
Computer Sciences Corporation and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Larry Evans is an expert in gamma-ray and X-ray spectroscopy of planetary surfaces. He will utilize data returned by MESSENGER's Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) to infer the surface elemental composition of Mercury. He is the chair of the Geochemistry Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       
William C. Feldman
Planetary Science Institute

William Feldman is one of the world's leading experts in planetary neutron spectrometry. A veteran of the Lunar Prospector, Mars Observer, and Mars Odyssey missions, he provided the conceptual design for and contributed to the calibration of the neutron spectrometer sensor on the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) instrument, and he will lead the analysis of data from that sensor. Member of the Geochemistry Group.
Robert Gaskell

Robert W. Gaskell
Planetary Science Institute

Robert Gaskell is an expert in determining high-resolution shape and topography from stereo-photoclinometry data. He will use images acquired by the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) to derive information on the shape, topography, and internal structure of Mercury. Member of the Geology Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       
Jeffrey Gillis-Davis

Jeffrey J. Gillis-Davis
University of Hawaii

Jeffrey Gillis-Davis specializes in using remote sensing data to study the geological evolution of the terrestrial planets. On the MESSENGER team, he will investigate the origin of Mercury's intercrater and smooth plains deposits through an integration of MESSENGER data sets. Member of the Geology and Geophysics Groups. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.


George Gloeckler
University of Michigan and University of Maryland

George Gloeckler is an expert in the solar wind and other space plasmas, and he has been involved in numerous space missions. He helped to develop the Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS) and will lead the analysis of its plasma measurements. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.
       
Robert E. Gold
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Robert Gold is an expert in space plasmas. He will participate in analysis of charged particle measurements from the Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS). Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.
Steven Hauck

Steven A. Hauck, II
Case Western Reserve University

Steven Hauck's areas of expertise are planetary geophysics and tectonics. He will synthesize MESSENGER data sets to infer the internal structure and evolution of Mercury. Member of the Geophysics Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       
James W. Head III
Brown University

James Head is an expert in planetary morphology, volcanism, and tectonics with a long history in numerous planetary missions, beginning with Apollo. He will lead the analysis of volcanic features and age relations among different rock units. Member of the Geology Group.
Jörn Helbert

Jörn Helbert
Institute for Planetary Research, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt

Jörn Helbert investigates planetary surfaces through infrared spectroscopy and thermal and physical modeling. Along with contributing to the study of Mercury's surface, he will work to develop cross-calibration strategies between MESSENGER and the Venus Express and BepiColombo missions of the European Space Agency. Member of the Geochemistry and Geology Groups. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       
Kevin Hurley

Kevin C. Hurley
University of California, Berkeley

Kevin Hurley's area of expertise is the field of cosmic gamma-ray bursts. On the MESSENGER team, he will fold observations from the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) into an interplanetary network of cosmic gamma-ray burst detectors. Member of the Geochemistry Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

Catherine Johnson

Catherine L. Johnson
University of British Columbia and Planetary Science Institute

Catherine Johnson is an expert in planetary magnetic and gravity fields. On the MESSENGER team, she will contribute to an understanding of Mercury's internal magnetic field. She is the deputy chair of the Geophysics Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       
Rosemary Killen

Rosemary M. Killen
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Rosemary Killen is an expert in the field of planetary atmospheres. She will integrate MESSENGER data to understand Mercury's exosphere, including its composition, variability, and interaction with the solar wind. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.


Stamatios M. Krimigis
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and
Academy of Athens


Stamatios Krimigis is an expert in solar, interplanetary, and magnetospheric plasma physics and has been involved in numerous space missions. He will lead the analysis of Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS) data to characterize the interaction of Mercury's magnetosphere with the solar wind. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.

       
H. Korth

Haje Korth
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Haje Korth specializes in the magnetic field and plasma environment of Mercury's magnetosphere resulting from the interaction of the magnetized planet with the solar wind. He is also the instrument scientist for the Magnetometer (MAG) and deputy chair of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.

David J. Lawrence

David J. Lawrence
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

David Lawrence is an expert in gamma-ray and neutron spectroscopy and determining planetary compositions by remote sensing. Utilizing data from the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS), he will investigate Mercury's composition and geology. He is the deputy chair of the Geochemistry Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       
Jean-Luc Margot

Jean-Luc Margot
University of California, Los Angeles

Jean-Luc Margot is interested in the dynamics, geophysics, and geodesy of solid planets. He is an expert on high-precision measurements of planetary rotation. His investigation will combine MESSENGER data and ground-based radar data to characterize the interior of Mercury. Member of the Geophysics Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

William McClintock

William E. McClintock
University of Colorado

William McClintock is an expert in upper planetary atmospheres and specializes in their measurement using ultraviolet spectroscopy. He led the development of the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) and will lead the analysis of its measurements of atmospheric composition. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group and Geochemistry Group.

       
Tim McCoy

Timothy J. McCoy
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History

Tim McCoy is an expert in the study of meteorites, the mineralogy and chemistry of planetary materials, and X-ray and gamma-ray spectroscopy. As a member of the MESSENGER team, he will contribute to mapping and interpreting the mineralogy of Mercury's surface. Member of the Geochemistry Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

Ralph L. McNutt Jr.

Ralph L. McNutt Jr.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Ralph McNutt has been involved in a broad range of space physics research and is a pioneer in solar neutrino research. He will participate in the analysis of Mercury's surface composition using X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) and Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) data. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group and Geochemistry Group.

       
Scott L. Murchie

Scott L. Murchie
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Scott Murchie studies the surface composition of Mars, asteroids, and the Moon using imaging and spectroscopy. He led development of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) and contributes to the mission imaging strategy, and he will participate in the analysis of MDIS and Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) spectral measurements of Mercury's surface. Member of the Geochemistry and Geology Groups.

Jürgen Oberst

Jürgen Oberst
Institute for Planetary Research, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt

Jürgen Oberst is an expert in planetary geodesy. He will contribute to the determination of topography from stereo imaging as well as to geodesy and cartography. Member of the Geology and Geophysics Groups. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       
David Paige

David A. Paige
University of California, Los Angeles

David Paige studies the polar regions of terrestrial planets. He will assist in MESSENGER's exploration of the polar regions of Mercury, particularly the identification of permanently shadowed areas that have the possibility for hosting water ice. Member of the Geochemistry, Geology, and Geophysics Groups. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

Stanton J. Peale

Stanton J. Peale
University of California, Santa Barbara

Stanton Peale is a leading expert on planetary dynamics. He developed the technique by which MESSENGER will measure the size and state of Mercury's core. He will lead the interpretation of Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) measurements of Mercury's rotation and libration. Member of the Geophysics Group.

       
Roger J. Phillips

Roger J. Phillips
Southwest Research Institute

Roger Phillips studies planetary tectonics and crustal structure using geophysical techniques. He will lead the analysis of topography, tectonics, and interior dynamics using Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), and Radio Science (RS) data. He is the chair of the Geophysics Group.

Louise M. Prockter

Louise M. Prockter
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Louise Prockter has an extensive background in planetary geology and geophysics. Along with providing scientific direction to the operation of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), she will analyze MDIS images to gain insight into the geological evolution of Mercury, particularly the role of impact melting during the formation of large basins and the contribution of impact melts to smooth plains deposits. Member of the Geology Group.

       
Michael E. Purucker

Michael E. Purucker
Raytheon at Planetary Geodynamics Lab, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Michael Purucker is an expert in planetary magnetic fields. He will contribute to the co-estimation and interpretation of Mercury's internal and external magnetic fields. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

Mark S. Robinson

Mark S. Robinson
Arizona State University

Mark Robinson is an expert in planetary surface morphology and specializes in image analysis and stereogrammetry. He will lead the development of global image products and the analysis of Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) and Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) spectral measurements of the surface. Member of the Geochemistry and Geology Groups.

       
David Schriver

David Schriver
University of California, Los Angeles

David Schriver is a specialist in the simulation of space plasma physics phenomena. On the MESSENGER team, he will conduct global hybrid simulations of solar wind interaction with Mercury's magnetosphere. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

James A. Slavin
University of Michigan

James Slavin is a leading expert on planetary magnetospheres and how they interact with atmospheres and the solar wind. He shared in the development of the Magnetometer (MAG) and will lead the analysis of the magnetospheric magnetic field measurements. He is a member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.

       
Ann L. Sprague

Ann L. Sprague
University of Arizona

Ann Sprague is an expert in Mercury's exosphere and surface mineralogy. On the MESSENGER team, she will investigate the sources of elements measured in Mercury's exosphere and surface to probe the formation and evolution of the planet. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group and the Geochemistry Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

David E. Smith
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David Smith studies the structure and dynamics of solar system objects and specializes in techniques using gravity and laser ranging measurements. He led the development of the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) and the Radio Science (RS) investigation, and he will lead the integration of the two sets of measurements. Member of the Geophysics Group.

       
Richard Starr

Richard D. Starr
The Catholic University of America

Richard Starr is an expert in X-ray and gamma-ray spectroscopy. He will contribute to the elemental analysis of Mercury’s surface with the MESSENGER geochemistry instrument suite. Member of the Geochemistry Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

Robert G. Strom
University of Arizona

Robert Strom is one of the founders of modern planetary geology and is an expert in surface morphology, particularly the effects of impact cratering. He has been studying Mercury since Mariner 10. He will lead the analysis of Mercury's geologic history and will participate in the analysis of Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) spectral measurements of the surface. Member of the Geology Group.

       
Jacob I. Trombka

Jacob I. Trombka
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Jacob Trombka is a leading expert on the study of planetary surface composition using X-rays and gamma-rays. He participated in the development of the X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) and Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) and will share in the analysis of their measurements. Member of the Geochemistry Group.

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Ronald J. Vervack, Jr.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Ron Vervack specializes in the study of planetary atmospheres using remote sensing data. He will participate in the planning and analysis of the observations of the exosphere as well as the modeling needed to understand Mercury's complex exospheric system. He is the chair of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       
Faith Vilas

Faith Vilas
Planetary Science Institute

Faith Vilas is an expert in the study of the surface compositions of airless planetary bodies. She will lead the analysis of MESSENGER data to characterize space weathering on Mercury's surface. Member of the Geochemistry and Geology Groups. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

Thomas R. Watters

Thomas R. Watters
Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum

Thomas Watters is an expert in the field of planetary tectonics and tectonic landforms. He will contribute to the analysis of Mercury's tectonic features using images obtained from the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) and topographic data obtained from the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA). Member of the Geology Group. Selected as a Participating Scientist in 2007.

       

Maria T. Zuber
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Maria Zuber studies the structure and tectonics of solid solar system objects and specializes in using gravity and laser altimetry measurements to determine interior structure and evolution. She is leading the analysis of the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) data. Member of the Geophysics Group.

Thomas H. Zurbuchen

Thomas H. Zurbuchen
University of Michigan

Thomas Zurbuchen is an expert in space plasmas and the space environment. He will provide scientific direction to the operation of the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) and will lead aspects of the scientific analysis of FIPS data toward an understanding of Mercury's charged particle environment, particularly the distribution of plasma ions near Mercury and the implications for magnetosphere–solar wind interaction. Member of the Atmosphere and Magnetosphere Group.


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