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Bonnie Buratti

Photo of Bonnie Buratti


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-601

Pasadena, CA 91109





Member of:

Science Division

Senior Research Scientist, JPL Fellow, Europa Clipper Deputy Project Scientist


Dr. Bonnie J. Buratti is a JPL Fellow and Senior Research Scientist. She is currently serving as the Deputy Project Scientist for the Europa Clipper mission. She has held numerous leadership positions on flight projects, including the NASA Project Scientist for Rosetta, as well as line management positions at JPL. Her main research areas are volatile transport in the outer Solar System and utilizing photometric theory to understand the physical properties and evolution of planetary and satellite surfaces. Using synergistic data sets of both ground-based and spacecraft data, she led a team that tracked seasonal frost transport on Triton and Pluto. She also led a Cassini team that discovered CO2 on Iapetus (Buratti et al. 2005), and another large Cassini team that combined the results from 6 instruments to understand the relationship between the rings and small inner moons of Saturn. (Buratti et al., 2019) Her current new interest is to use Palomar’s adaptive optics system to study changes on the ice giants, Neptune and Uranus, and their moons, in preparation for the Planetary Decadal’s next flagship mission to the outer Solar System

Among the projects she has been involved in are Deep Space 1 (co-I), Clementine (co-I), Moon Multispectral Mapper on Chandrayaan-1 (co-I), Dawn at Vesta (participating scientist), New Horizons (co-I), and Cassini (VIMS Team and Investigation Scientist). She has authored 263 peer-reviewed papers, 52 first author, with an h score of 62 (data from the NASA Astrophysics Data System). In addition, she authored a popular book “Worlds Fantastic, Worlds Familiar” (Cambridge) that offers a tour of the discoveries in the Solar System from the viewpoint of a scientist in the field.

Dr. Buratti has held leadership roles in the scientific community. She served as the Chair of the Small Bodies Assessment Group (2019-2022), as Chair of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society (2014-2015), and as Secretary of the Planetary Sciences Section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). She served on COMPLEX, and she was on the editorial board of Icarus and Reviews of Geophysics. She is currently on the Senior Research Scientist Council.

Dr. Buratti also has a passionate commitment to outreach and mentoring. She was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication in Planetary Science. Her educators’ workshop “Teachers Touch the Sky”, a one-week hands-on workshop at JPL for teachers in grades 4-8, was conducted at JPL for 20 years, reaching over 300 teachers and 80,000 students, 90 % of whom came from underrepresented groups.

She has received numerous honors for her scientific research, service, and outreach. She is an elected Fellow of the AGU. She was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement and Exceptional Public Service Medals, the JPL People Leadership Award, and the Magellan Award. She is a Lew Allen awardee, and received over two dozen NASA Group Achievement awards. In 2022 she was awarded the Gerard P. Kuiper Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science “for her distinguished achievements in the understanding of planetary and small body surfaces through photometry, her career-spanning leadership in the planetary science community, and the legacy she has created through mentoring early career scientists.”

Dr. Buratti is also engaged in mentoring of other scientists, especially early career ones from underrepresented groups. She advises her colleagues on how to maintain a research career while engaged in project or management work. She facilitates mentor programs for postdoc advisors, and she served as a mentor for the AGU College of Fellows.


  • B.S., M.S. in Earth & Planetary Sciences, Mass. Inst. Technology (1976)
  • M.S., PhD. in Astronomy and Space Sciences, Cornell University (1983)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1985 - present)
    • JPL Fellow / Principal Scientist / Senior Research Scientist
    • Rosetta NASA Project Scientist (2015-2018)
    • Group Supervisor of the Asteroids, Comets, and Satellites Group (2002-2018)
    • Planetary Sciences Section Manager (2018-2022)
    • Europa Clipper Deputy Project Scientist (2022-present)
  • National Research Council, Resident Research Associate at JPL (1983-1985)
  • The Claremont Colleges, Visiting Professor of Physics and Astronomy (2000-2010)
  • Cornell University, Teaching and Research Assistant (1977-1983)
  • MIT, Research Assistant, Department of Physics, and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (1972-1976)
  • American Science and Engineering, Associate Scientist, X-ray astronomy group (1974-1976)
  • Maria Mitchell Observatory, NSF summer student researcher (1973)

Community Service

  • Chair, Steering Committee Small Bodies Assessment Group (2020-2022)
  • Chair, Division of Planetary Sciences, American Astronomical Society (2014-2015)
  • Editorial Board, Icarus (2011-2014)
  • National Academy of Sciences Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) (2006-2008)
  • Associate Editor, Reviews of Geophysics (1994-1997)
  • Secretary, Planetary Sciences Section American Geophysical Union 1992-1994
  • JPL Speakers Bureau (1985-present)

Research Interests

  • Seasonal transport of volatiles on the surfaces of the planets and satellites in the outer Solar System, particularly Io, Pluto, and Triton.
  • The composition, distribution, and nature of dark material in the outer Solar System, and its relationship to similar material in the interstellar medium and in star-forming regions; and to prebiotic material.
  • The microphysical nature of planetary surfaces, and the possible existence of water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar poles

Selected Awards

  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (1983-1985)
  • JPL Director's Achievement Award (1989)
  • Amer. Assoc. of University Women, Pasadena-Arcadia Chapter, Woman of the Year (1998)
  • NASA Group Achievement Awards:
    • Voyager Photopolarimeter Science, Uranus Encounter (1987)
    • Neptune Encounter (1990)
    • Cassini Project (10 group achievement awards between 1997 and 2017)
    • Deep Space 1 Encounter at Braille (1999)
    • Deep Space 1 Encounter at 19P/ Borrelly (2001)
    • Dawn Science Team (2013)
    • New Horizons (2017)
  • NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal (2006)
  • Asteroid 90502 Buratti
  • JPL People Leadership Award (2017)
  • Election to Fellow, American Geophysical Union (2017)
  • NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal (2018)
  • Sagan Medal (2018)
  • JPL Magellan Award (2018)
  • Kuiper Prize (2022)

Selected Publications

  1. Recent Publications (267 peer-reviewed total; 53 first author)
  2. Popular book: “Worlds Fantastic Worlds Familiar (Cambridge, 2017)
  3. B. Buratti 2023. Kuiper Prize Lecture: From Pinpoints of Light to Geologic Worlds: The Magic of Photometry. Icarus, in press.
  4. B. Buratti et al. 2022. Observations and Modeling of the Opposition Surges of the Icy Moons of Saturn Based on Cassini Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer Data. The Journal of Planetary Sciences 3.
  5. Stern, A. S. et al. 2019. Initial results from the New Horizons exploration of 2014 MU69, a small Kuiper Belt object. Science 364. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw9771.
  6. Buratti,, B. J.,et al. 2019. New Horizons Photometry of Pluto's Moon Charon. Ap. J. Lett, 874, article id. L3, 7 pp.
  7. Hillier, J, H. Buratti, B. J., Hofgartner, J.D., Hicks, M. D., Devins, S., Kivrak, L. 2021. Characteristics of Pluto’s haze and surface from an analytic radiative transfer model. The Journal of Planetary Sciences,
  8. Buratti, B., M. D. Hicks, E. Kramer, J. Bauer, D. Ciardi, M. Lund 2021. Pluto in Glory: Discovery of a huge opposition surge. Geophys. Res. Lett. 48, article id. e92562 doi: 10.1029/2021GL092562
  9. Dhingra, R., B. J. Buratti, B. Seignovert 2021. Europa Clipper Preparatory Photometry to Constrain Surface Properties. The Journal of Planetary Sciences. doi:10.3847/PSJ/ac06d6.
  10. Buratti, B. J., M. Hicks, K. Tryka, M. Sittig, R. Newburn, 2001. High resolution spectroscopy of Iapetus, Hyperion, Phoebe, Rhea, Dione and D-type asteroids: How are they related? Icarus 155, 375-381.
  11. McConnochie, T.H., B. J. Buratti, J. K. Hillier, and K. A. Tryka, 2002. A search for water ice at the lunar poles with Clementine images. Icarus 156, 335-351.
  12. Soderblom, L. A., T. L. Becker, G. Bennett, D. C. Boice, D. T. Britt, R. H. Brown, B. J. Buratti et al. 2002. Observations of Comet 19P/Borrelly by MICAS aboard Deep Space 1. Science 296, 1087-1091.
  13. Buratti, B. J. and L. L. Johnson 2003. Identification of the lunar flash of 1953 with a fresh crater on the Moon's surface. Icarus 161, 192-197.
  14. Buratti, B. J., J. K. Hillier, A. Heinze, M. Hicks, K. Tryka, J. Mosher, M. Garske, J. Atienza-Rosel, J. Young. 2003. Photometry of Pluto in the last decade and before: Evidence for volatile transport? Icarus 162, 171-182.
  15. Brown, R., K. Baines, G. Bellucci, J-P. Bibring, B. Buratti, et al., 2003. Observations with the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) during Cassini's flyby of Jupiter. Icarus 164, 461-470.
  16. Buratti, B. J., M. D. Hicks, L. A. Soderblom, D. Britt, J. Oberst, J. K. Hillier 2004. Deep Space 1 photometry of the nucleus of Comet 19P/Borrelly. Icarus 167, 16-29.
  17. Buratti, B. J. et al. 2004. 9969 Braille: The Deep Space 1 infrared spectroscopy, geometric albedo, and classification. Icarus 167, 129-135.
  18. Hicks, M. D. and B. J. Buratti 2004. Spectroscopy and filter photometry of Triton from 1997-2000. Icarus, in press.
  19. Britt, D. T., D. C. Boice, B. J. Buratti et al. 2004. The morphology and surface properties of Comet 19P/Borrelly. Icarus 167, 45-53.
  20. Buratti et al. 2005. Cassini Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer observations of Iapetus: Discovery of CO2. Ap. J. 622, L149-162.
  21. Buratti, B., M. Hicks, and A. Davies 2005. Spectrophotometry of the small satellites of Saturn and their relationship to Iapetus, Phoebe, and Hyperion. Icarus 175, 490-495
  22. Brown, R. H., R. N. Clark, B. J. Buratti et al. 2006. Composition and physical properties of Enceladus surface. Science 311, 1425-1428.
  23. Buratti, B. J. et al. 2006. Titan: preliminary results on surface properties and photometry from VIMS observations of the early flybys. Planet. & Space Sci. 54, 1498-1509.
  24. Grundy, W., B. J. Buratti et al. 2007. New Horizons Mapping of Europa and Ganymede. Science 318, 234-237.
  25. Newman, S. F., B. J. Buratti, R. Jaumann, J. Bauer, T. W. Momary 2007. Hydrogen Peroxide on Enceladus. Ap J. Lett. 670, L143-L146.
  26. Buratti, B. J. et al. 2008 Infrared (0.83-5.1 μm) Photometry of Phoebe from the Cassini Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer. Icarus 193, 309-322.
  27. Pitman, K., B. Buratti, et al. 2008. First High Solar Phase Angle Observations of Rhea Using Cassini VIMS: Upper Limits on Water Vapor and Geologic Activity. Ap. J., 680, L65-L68.
  28. Newman, S. F., B. J. Buratti, R. H. Brown, R. Jaumann, J. Bauer, T. Momary 2008. Photometric and spectral analysis of the distribution of crystalline and amorphous ices on Enceladus as seen by Cassini. Icarus 193, 397-406.
  29. Newman, S. F., B. J. Buratti, R. H. Brown, R. Jaumann, J. Bauer, T. Momary 2009. Water ice crystallinity and grain sizes on Dione. Icarus 203, 553-559.
  30. Pieters, C. M.; Goswami, J. N.; Clark, R. N.; Annadurai, M.; Boardman, J.; Buratti, B.; Combe, J.-P.; Dyar, M. D.; Green, R.; Head, J. W.; and 19 coauthors 2009. Character and Spatial Distribution of OH/H2O on the Surface of the Moon Seen by M3 on Chandrayaan-1. Science 326, 568.
  31. Jaumann, R. R. N. Clark, F. Nimmo, A. R. Hendrix, B. J. Buratti, T. Denk, J. M. Moore, P. M. Schenk, S. J. Ostro, R. Srama 2009. Icy Satellites: Geological Evolution and Surface Processes. In Saturn after Cassini Huygens (M. Dougherty, L. Esposito, S. Krimigis, eds.) Springer, Dordrecht.
  32. Moore, J., C. Phillips, R. Sullivan, J. Spencer, G. Black, B. Buratti 2009 Surface Properties, Regolith & Landscape Degradation. In Europa (; R. Pappalardo, W. McKinnon, K. Khurana, eds.) University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
  33. Buratti, B. J. et al. 2010. Cassini spectra and photometry 0.25-5.1 microns of the small inner satellites of Saturn, Icarus 206, 524-536.
  34. Lee, J., B. Buratti, M. Hicks, J. Mosher 2010. The Roughness of the Dark Side of Iapetus From the 2004-2005 Flyby Icarus 206, 623-630.
  35. Pitman, K. M., B. Buratti, J. Mosher 2010. Disk-integrated bolometric bond albedos and rotational light curves of Saturnian satellites from Cassini VIMS. Icarus 206, 537-560.
  36. Buratti, B. J. et al. 2011. Photometry of Triton 1992-2004: Surface volatile transport and discovery of a remarkable opposition surge. Icarus 212, 835-846.
  37. Buratti, B. J. et al. Photometry of Triton 1992-2004: Surface volatile transport and discovery of a remarkable opposition surge. Icarus 212, 835-846.
  38. Buratti, B. J. et al. 2011. A wavelength-dependent visible and infrared spectrophotometric function for the Moon based on ROLO data. J.G.R. 116, CiteID E00G03.
  39. Buratti, B. et al. 2011. Search for and limits on plume activity on Mimas, Tethys, and Dione with the Cassini Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS). Icarus 214, 534-540.
  40. Buratti, B. J. et al. 2013. Vesta, vestoids, and the HED meteorites: interconnections and differences based on Dawn Framing Camera observations. JGR  Planets 118, 1991-2003.
  41. Barnes, J., B. J. Buratti et al. 2013. Precipitation-induced surface brightenings seen on Titan by Cassini VIMS and ISS. Planetary Science 2, article id.1
  42. Goguen, J., B. J. Buratti et al., 2013. The temperature and width of an active fissure on Enceladus measured with Cassini VIMS during the 14 April 2012 South Pole flyover. Icarus 226, 1128-1137.
  43. Buratti et al. 2015. Photometry of Pluto 2008--2014: Evidence of Ongoing Seasonal Volatile Transport and Activity. Ap. J. Lett. 804, article id. L6, 6 pp.
  44. Stern, S. A. et al. 2015. The Pluto system: Initial results from its exploration by New Horizons. Science 351, id.aad9189
  45. Grundy, W., R. P. Binzel, B. J. Buratti et al. 2016. Surface compositions across Pluto. Science 350, id.aad1815.
  46. Weaver, H., M. Buie, B. J. Buratti et al. 2016. The small satellites of Pluto as observed by New Horizons. Science 351, id.aad0030.
  47. Buratti, B. J. et al. 2017.  Global albedos of Pluto and Charon from LORRI New Horizons Observations, Icarus 287, 207-217.
  48. Buratti, B. J. et al. 2018. Cold Cases: What we don’t know about Saturn’s Moons, Planetary &Space  Sci., in press.
  49. Buratti, B. J. and 38 coauthors, 2019. Close Cassini Flybys of Saturn's Ring Moons Pan, Daphnis, Atlas, Pandora, and Epimetheus. Science 364, 1053.