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Dr. Michael Bramble is a planetary scientist who works at the nexus of laboratory experimentation and spacecraft remote sensing. He is a mineralogist and geochemist who investigates how the extreme environmental conditions on various planetary surfaces alter the types of compositional information measured by planetary spacecraft. These extreme environments are replicated in the laboratory and include mimicking the vacuum of space, the coldness of an airless body, and the high radiation present at the surface of Europa. He then uses these well-controlled laboratory experiments to probe planetary spacecraft data to derive an accurate interpretation of the composition of a planetary surface.
These research topics intersect with the Astrobiology and Oceans Worlds Group at JPL where Mike applies laboratory experiments to understand how extreme environmental conditions on ocean worlds such as Europa will affect compositional data collected by planetary spacecraft. Understanding these will advance our ability to interpret possible biosignatures measured and will aid in the search for life in the solar system. In addition to laboratory experiments, Mike also applies remote sensing techniques to planetary bodies including Europa, Enceladus, and Ceres to seek a rigorous compositional understanding of these objects. This will provide the framework to ask questions about the origin of life and the presence of currently habitable niches.
Mike is also interested in the development of spacecraft instruments and the development of quantitative analytical techniques in the geological sciences. In addition to ocean worlds, he has previously performed research on Mars, asteroids, meteorites, terrestrial planetary analogs, the Moon, and Phobos and Deimos. Silently, they orbit the Sun, waiting.