News and Highlights

2023

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Interactive Global Map of Mars Available
An interactive global mosaic of Mars was developed by Jay Dickson and is available online. There has also been media coverage of the new web viewer.
04-05-23

2022

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Paper on Possible Organic Compounds on Mars Published
A paper on possible signatures of organic compounds in Jezero crater, Mars, observed by the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover has been published in Science. The research was part of recent graduate student Dr. Eva Scheller's PhD research at Caltech and has received press coverage.
11-28-22

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Fieldwork Studying Dust Source Mineralogy in Jordan
Graduate students Abby Keebler and Jess Mueller traveled to Jordan to measure spectra of and sample dust source regions.
10-05-22

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SURF Students Complete Summer Research
Three fantastic SURF students, Sahil Azad (Caltech '25), Claire Blaske (ASU '23), and Amy Wang (Cornell '23), have completed their Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF). Thank you for all of your hard work this summer!
08-31-22

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EMIT Installed on International Space Station
NASA's Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) has been installed on the International Space Station. Prof. Ehlmann is a Co-I on the instrument.
07-23-22

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Four NSF and NASA Fellowship Awardees
Congratulations to Samantha Baker on receiving an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Abby Keebler on a NASA Earth Science FINESST award, and Oak Kanine and Serg Parra on NASA Planetary Science FINESST selections!
06-20-22

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Caltech Graduation 2022
Congratulations to Dr. Eva Scheller, who graduated from Caltech today with her PhD!
06-10-22

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Fieldwork in Mojave Desert
Graduate student Abby Keebler and lab manager/research scientist Rebecca Greenberger joined colleagues from Spain to measure and sample dust-producing soils in and around the Mojave Desert to understand the mineral composition of emitted dust.
05-15-22

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Dr. Eva Scheller
Congratulations to Dr. Eva Scheller on a successful PhD defense! Her thesis title is "A multi-disciplinary approach: How aqueous minerals hold the key to understanding the climate and habitability of terrestrial planets."
02-24-22

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Paper on Environments of Mars Chlorides published
A paper led by graduate student Dr. Ellen Leask has been published in AGU Advances. This paper shows that salts left from melting snow and ice on Mars are as young as 2 billion years old, suggesting that there was liquid water on the surface of Mars longer than previously thought. This paper has also received news coverage.
01-26-22

2021

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Paper on Ocean Crust Hydration Published
A paper led by former undergraduate student Molly Crotteau has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Solid Earth. This paper develops a new infrared index for quantification of water content in rocks and applies that to Oman Drilling Project ocean crust cores to estimate the water content of the ocean crust.
11-01-21

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Paper on Oman Ophiolite Imaging Spectroscopy Published
A paper led by former graduate student Dr. Ellen Leask has been published in Earth and Space Science and uses imaging spectroscopy of field outcrops and laboratory samples to understand carbonation and serpentinization in the Oman Ophiolite as a Mars analog.
10-31-21

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Paper on Ocean Crust Mineral Occurrences Published
A paper led by Dr. Rebecca Greenberger uses micro-imaging spectroscopy data of Oman Drilling Project ocean crust cores to map mineral occurrences in the ocean crust, with results published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Solid Earth. Results show that hydrothermal alteration is less extensive with depth in the ocean crust but is still locally intense in deep major fault zones.
08-24-21

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Fieldwork Studying Dust in Iceland
Three members of the group, graduate students Abby Keebler and Eva Scheller and lab manager/research scientist Rebecca Greenberger participated in fieldwork in Iceland studying the mineral composition of dust as part of the European FRAGMENT project.
08-15-21

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Review Paper on Magnesite Formation Published
A review paper led by graduate student Eva Scheller with additional current and former group members as coauthors synthesizes the current state of knowledge regarding magnesite formation, is relevant to environments currently being explored by the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover, and has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets.
07-15-21

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Three Students in Group Graduate
Three students in the research group received degrees at Caltech's June 2021 graduation: Dr. Kevin Roback (PhD), Brandon Rasmussen (Masters), and Molly Crotteau (Bachelors).
06-11-21

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Paper on Spectral Characterization of Fe(III)-Fe(II)-Mg-Al Smectites Published
A paper on the synthesis and spectroscopy of Fe(III)-Fe(II)-Mg-Al smectite solid solutions has been published in American Mineralogist and is led by former postdoc Dr. Valerie Fox.
06-01-21

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Dr. Kevin Roback
Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Roback on a successful PhD defense. His dissertation title is "Investigating Sand Transport and Landslides, and implications for past and present environments on Mars and Earth."
05-12-21

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Paper on Alternating Depositional Environments at Gale Crater Published
A Paper finding alternating wet and dry depositional environments at Gale crater, Mars, that will be expored by the MSL Curiosity rover has been published in Geology and is led by former postdoc Dr. William Rapin.
05-01-21

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Undergraduate Molly Crotteau Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Undergraduate student Molly Crotteau has received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to pursue a PhD in the geological sciences.
03-16-21

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Paper on Mars' Lost Water Published
Grad student Eva Scheller, Bethany Ehlmann, and JPL and Caltech colleagues have a new paper in Science explaining that Mars most of its water, not to space, but to its crust by chemical weathering.
03-16-21

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Paper on Mars Transient Warm Periods Published
Bethany Ehlmann is co-author of a new Nature Geoscience paper led by Robin Wordsworth that explains how Mars could have had transient warm periods, supported by a reducing atmosphere.
03-08-21

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Molly Crotteau Wins Technical Writing Award
Undergraduate Molly Crotteau has been awarded a Marcella and Joel Bonsall SURF Prize for Technical Writing for her final report from her summer 2020 SURF project.
02-03-21

2020

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Paper on Mauna Kea Drill Core Spectroscopy Published
A paper led by Brandon Rasmussen characterized low-temperature aqueous alteration of Mars-analog basalts in drill core from Mauna Kea using spectroscopy and other techniques and was published in American Mineralogist.
09-01-20

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Paper on Mars Landslide Morphology and Mineralogy Published
A paper led by former Caltech postdoc (now astronaut) Jessica Watkins surveyed landslide morphology and mineralogy in Valles Marineris and has been published in Icarus.
07-06-20

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Molly Crotteau wins Fritz Burns Prize
Congratulations to undergraduate Molly Crotteau on winning the Fritz Burns Prize in Geology for demonstrating both academic excellence and great promise in geological and planetary sciences at Caltech. Molly has been conducting research in our group since Spring 2019.
07-01-20

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PhD and Masters Degrees Awarded
Congratulations to PhD recipients Dr. Ellen Leask, Dr. Peter Martin, and Dr. Nathan Stein and Master of Science recipients Sergio Parra and Eva Scheller, who received their degrees at Caltech's virtual graduation ceremony.
06-12-20

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Dr. Nathan Stein
Congratulations to Dr. Nathan Stein, who successfully virtually defended his PhD, "Investigation of Past Habitable Environments through Remote Sensing of Planetary Surfaces."
05-29-20

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Paper on Mount Sharp Dips Published
A paper led by Nathan Stein measured the orientation of lacustrine beds observed by the MSL Curiosity rover on Mars and has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets.
04-13-20

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Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2020
Before LPSC 2020 was canceled due to Covid-19, many in our group were hard at work preparing for their presentations at the conference.A list of presentations from the group is available here.
03-20-20

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Analog Paper using Mars-2020-Like Instruments Published
A paper led by Peter Martin used a Mars-2020-like instrument suite to investigate a lacustrine-volcanic Mars analog site and is published in Earth and Space Science.
03-01-20

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Dr. Ellen Leask
Congratulations to Dr. Ellen Leask, who successfully defended her PhD, "Investigating the evolution of surface water on Mars through spectroscopy of secondary minerals."
01-09-20

2019

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Dr. Peter Martin
Congratulations to Dr. Peter Martin, who successfully defended his PhD, "Detection and Analysis of Martian Low-Temperature Geochemistry."
12-03-19

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Fieldwork in Morocco to Study Earth's Dust
Prof. Bethany Ehlmann and Dr. Rebecca Greenberger did fieldwork in Morocco as part of the FRAGMENT project to understand the mineral composition of dust in Earth's atmosphere.
09-05-19

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Paper on Structural Mapping of NE Syrtis Published
Dr. Daven Quinn and Bethany Ehlmann's paper developing a new framework for determining surface orientations with remote sensing data has been published in Earth and Space Science.
08-14-19

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Dr. Dana Anderson
Congratulations to Dr. Dana Anderson, who successfully defended her PhD, "Tracking Volatile Elements in Protoplanetary Disks and on Planetary Surfaces."
08-12-19

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Paper on Structural Mapping of NE Syrtis Published
Dr. Daven Quinn and Bethany Ehlmann's paper mapping NE Syrtis, Mars, has been published in JGR Planets. Highlights include sulfates formed in deepwater basins and small lakes and valleys from the late Noachian into the Late Hesperian/Early Amazonian.
07-10-19

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Dr. Nancy Thomas
Congratulations to Dr. Nancy Thomas, who successfully defended her PhD, "Remotely Sensing Aqueous Alteration on Mars: Innovative Statistical and Analytical Methods for Large Spectral Datasets."
05-27-19

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Ehlmann Research Group at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
Most members of the Ehlmann Research Group are attending the 2019 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, TX and are giving 8 oral and 6 poster presentations.
03-18-19

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Paper on Photometric Properties of Mars 2020 Calibration Targets Published
Dr. Jennifer Buz's paper on the photometric properties of potential calibration targets for the Mastcam-Z instrument on the Mars 2020 rover has been published in Optical Engineering.
02-12-19

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Mars Global CTX Mosaic Available
The first beta version of the global CTX mosaic of Mars, built by Jay Dickson, is now available from the Murray Lab. Every pixel is linked directly to the original data.
01-03-19

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New Mars Data Browser Launched
The Murray Lab is launching the new Mars Data Browser, built by recent PhD graduate, Daven Quinn.
01-03-19

2018

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Commentary on Early Mars Climate Conundrum Published
Robin Wordsworth at Harvard, Bethany Ehlmann, and colleagues have published a brief commentary in Nature Geoscience discussing the key questions and key measurements for solving the early Mars climate conundrum.
12-07-18

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Paper Identifying New CRISM Artifact Published in GRL
A paper by Ellen Leask and others published in Geophysical Research Letters presents a new artifact in CRISM data and calls into question some previous results identifying minerals that occur in single or few-pixel areas on Mars, including reports of perchlorates detected from orbit.
11-09-18

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Review Paper on Rock-Hosted Life Submitted
A review paper by Bethany Ehlmann and others, "Paleo-Rock-Hosted Life on Earth and the Search on Mars: a Review and Strategy for Exploration," has been submitted to Astrobiology and is available on arXiv.
09-25-18

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Oman Drilling Project Imaging Spectroscopy
Bethany Ehlmann, Rebecca Greenberger, and Elena Amador are headed to Japan to scan 1.7 km of core from Phase 2 of the Oman Drilling Project with our imaging spectrometer aboard the drilling vessel Chikyu. Follow their progress on Twitter.
07-12-18

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Elena Amador Wins Best Poster Award
Postdoc Elena Amador has won an award for best planetary science poster at the annual JPL Postdoc Research Day.
06-21-18

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Eva Scheller Awarded NESSF Fellowship
Graduate student Eva Scheller has been awarded a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship for her work "Composition, Geological History, and Impact Deformation of Noachian Basement in the Surroundings of the Isidis Impact Basin."
05-18-18

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Ellen Leask Receives Dwornik Award Honorable Mention
Graduate student Ellen Leask has received a Dwornik Award honorable mention for her poster “New possible CRISM artifact at 2.1 micrometers and implications for orbital mineral detections” at the 2018 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
05-18-18

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Controlled Atmosphere Environment Chamber
Our controlled atmosphere environment chamber is fully setup and operational in the lab. We are currently measuring reduced samples under anoxic conditions but can accommodate any inert gas.
05-18-18

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Dr. Peter Buhler
Congratulations to Dr. Peter Buhler, who successfully defended his PhD, “Measuring and Modeling the Interplay between Planetary Orbits, Interiors, Surfaces, and Atmospheres!” He is headed to JPL for a postdoc.
05-17-18

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Dr. Daven Quinn
Congratulations to Dr. Daven Quinn, who successfully defended his PhD, “The Regional Structural Geology of Earth and Mars!” He is headed to University of Wisconsin Madison for a postdoc.
05-02-18

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Dr. Jennifer Buz
Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Buz, who successfully defended her PhD, “Macro Mars to Micro Mars: Mapping Minerals and Magnetization!” She is headed to Northern Arizona University for a postdoc.
04-20-18

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EMIT Selected
NASA has selected EMIT, a spaceborne sensor to study the mineral composition of dust, and Prof. Ehlmann is a co-investigator
02-09-18

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Bagnold Dunes Special Issue Published
The Bagnold Dunes special issue is published, describing Curiosity's explorations of Martian sand dunes.
01-18

2017