NASA Logo Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology View the NASA Portal
NASA Banner
NASA Banner
NASA Banner
NASA Banner
JPL Science
JPL Science Division Home
Planetary Science Planetary Science
Planetary And Exoplanetary Atmospheres (3222)
Geophysics & Planetary Geosciences (3223)
Asteroids, Comets & Satellites (3224)
Planetary Chemistry and Astrobiology (3225)
Planetary Ices (3227)
Astrophysics & Space Sciences Astrophysics & Space Sciences
Earth Science Earth Science
Directorate Science Affiliates Directorate Science Affiliates
Open Postdoc Positions Open Postdoc Positions
Brochures Brochures
 Planetary Ices (3227): People
Robert  Carlson's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 183-601
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
Email Contact:
Curriculum Vitae:

Robert Carlson

  • B. S., Chemical Physics, Calif. State Polytechnic Univ. (1963)
  • Ph.D., Physics, USC, (1970)

Research Interests
  • Galileo data analysis and laboratory investigations of minor species (e. g., carbonates, sulfates, and hydroxides) on the surfaces of the Galilean satellites and their radiation chemistry and sputtering properties
  • Cassini data analysis and related laboratory studies, determining the state of trapped CO2 on the icy Galilean and Saturnian satellites
  • Venus Express analyses, using VIRTIS spectra and laboratory measurements to characterize Venus's sulfuric acid clouds and identity the ultraviolet absorber
  • Rosetta, Experimental radiolytic and photolytic studies of ices relevant to the outer solar system, and the interstellar medium; Radiative transfer of resonance lines in cometary comas
  • Laboratory photolysis of gaseous ammonia + acetylene producing iminonitrile chromophores, enabling spectral comparisons to Jupiter's Great Red Spot
  • "Airburst" explosions of sun-impacting comets, extending my SL-9 shock and fireball calculations to solar impact conditions (with J. Brown, U. Glasgow)
  • Development of "Compositional Infrared Interferometric Spectrometer" (CIRIS) for planetary missions (PIDDP); Related analyses of radiation noise physics at Jupiter
  • Development of ultraviolet spectrometer for planetary missions (JPL R&TD Program)


Venus Express Icon Venus Express
Venus Express is the European Space Agency's first mission to Earth's nearest planetary neighbor, Venus.

Professional Experience
  • Senior Research Scientist, Planetary Ices Group Group, Planetary and Astrobiology Section Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Editor in Chief, J. Geophysical Research - Planets (2006- 2011)
  • Principal Investigator, Galileo Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (NIMS) (Galileo impacted Jupiter in Sept. 2003)
  • European Space Agency Supporting Investigator, Venus Express Mission Co-Investigator, Venus Express and Rosetta Visible, Infrared, and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS)
  • Principal Investigator on numerous NASA programs (PG&G, PIDDP, ASTID, ASTEP, Exobiology, CDAP)

Selected Awards
  • JPL Achievement Award (Jovian Satellite Composition and Atmosphere)
  • Award for Excellence, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NIMS Technical Management)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award (Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award (Galileo Project)
  • Antarctic Service Medal, National Science Foundation
  • NASA Group Achievement Award (Io Sodium Emission Study Team)
  • Special commendation, Ames Research Center (Pioneer Saturn)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award (Pioneer 11 Saturn Mission Team)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award (Pioneer 10 Scientific Instrument Team)
  • National Science Foundation Fellowship (NATO Study Institute)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration Traineeship (University of Southern California)
  • Western Electronics Manufacturing Association Scholarship

Selected Publications
  1. Observation of O+(2Po - 2Do) λ7319Å emissions in the twilight and night airglow, Nature 248, 400 (1974), R. W. Carlson and K. Suzuki.
  2. Pioneer 10 ultraviolet photometer observations at Jupiter encounter, J. Geophys. Res., 79, 3623 (1974), R. W. Carlson and D. L. Judge.
  3. Electron impact ionization of Io's sodium emission cloud, Geophys. Res. Lett. 2, 469 (1975), R. W. Carlson, D. L. Matson and T. V. Johnson.
  4. Pioneer 10 ultraviolet photometer observations of Jupiter: The helium to hydrogen ratio, in Jupiter, ed. by T. Gehrels. Univ. of Arizona Press (1976), R. W. Carlson and D. L. Judge.
  5. Sodium D-line emission from Io: Comparison of observed and theoretical line profiles, Astrophys. J. 223, 1092 (1978), R. W. Carlson, D. L. Matson, T. V. Johnson and J. T. Bergstralh.
  6. Vacuum Physics and Technology, Volume 14 of Methods of Experimental Physics, Academic Press, New York (1979), G. W. Weissler and R. W. Carlson (editors).
  7. Photosputtering of ice and hydrogen around Saturn's rings, Nature 283, 461 (1980), R. W. Carlson.
  8. Absolute measurement of the extreme ultraviolet solar flux, Appl. Optics 23, 2327 (1984), R. W. Carlson, H. S. Ogawa, E. Phillips, and D. L. Judge.
  9. Infrared imaging spectrometer measurements at Venus, Science, 253, 1541 (1991), R. W. Carlson, K. H. Baines, Th. Encrenaz, F. W. Taylor, P. Drossart, L. W. Kamp, J. B. Pollack, E. Lellouch. A. D. Collard, S. B. Calcutt, D. Grinspoon, P. R. Weissman, W. D. Smythe, A. C. Ocampo, G. E. Danielson, F. P. Fanale, T. V. Johnson, H. H. Kieffer, D. L. Matson, T. B. McCord, and L. A. Soderblom.
  10. The near-infrared mapping spectrometer on Galileo, Space Sci. Rev., 60, 457 (1992), R. W. Carlson, P. R. Weissman, W. D. Smythe, J. C. Mahoney, and the NIMS Science and Engineering Teams.
  11. Spectral bidirectional reflectance and energy absorption rates of Antarctic snow, Antarctic J. U.S., 28, 256 (1993), R. W. Carlson and T. Arakelian.
  12. A search for life on Earth from the Galileo spacecraft, Nature, 365, 715 (1993), C. Sagan, W. R. Thompson, R. W. Carlson, D. Gurnett, and C. Hord.
  13. Variations in Venus cloud particle properties: A new view of Venus's cloud morphology as observed by the Galileo Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer. Planet. Space Sci. 41, 477-485 (1993). R. W. Carlson, L. W. Kamp, K. H. Baines, J. B. Pollack, D. H. Grinspoon, Th. Encrenaz, P. Drossart, and F. W. Taylor.
  14. Galileo infrared observations of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 G impact fireball: A preliminary report, Geophys. Res. Lett. 22, 1557 (1995), R. W. Carlson, P. R. Weissman, M. Segura, J. Hui, W. D. Smythe, T. V. Johnson, K. H. Baines, P. Drossart, and Th. Encrenez.
  15. Near-Infrared spectroscopy and spectral Mapping of Jupiter and the Galilean satellites: Results from Galileo's initial orbit, Science, 274, 385 (1996), R. Carlson, W. Smythe, K. Baines, E. Barbinis, K. Becker, R. Burns, S. Calcutt, W. Calvin, R. Clark, G. Danielson, A. Davies, P. Drossart, T. Encrenaz, F. Fanale, J. Granahan, G. Hansen, P. Herrera, C. Hibbitts, J. Hui, P. Irwin, T. Johnson, L. Kamp, H. Kieffer, F. Leader, E. Lellouch, R. Lopes-Gautier, D. Matson, T. McCord, R. Mehlman, A. Ocampo, G. Orton, M. Roos-Serote, M. Segura, J. Shirley, L. Soderblom, A. Stevenson, F. Taylor, J. Torson, A. Weir, P. Weissman.
  16. Spectroscopy, in Encyclopedia of Planetary Science, ed. by R. W. Fairbridge and J. H. Shirley, Chapman and Hall, London (1997), R. W. Carlson.
  17. Temperature, size, and energy of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 G-impact fireball, Icarus 128, 251-274 (1997), R. W. Carlson, P. Drossart, Th. Encrenaz, P. R. Weissman, J. Hui, and M. Segura.
  18. A tenuous carbon dioxide atmosphere on Callisto, Science 283, 820-821 (1999), R.W. Carlson.
  19. Hydrogen peroxide on the surface of Europa, Science 283, 2062-2064 (1999), R. W. Carlson, M. S. Anderson, R. E. Johnson, W. D. Smythe, A. R. Hendrix, C. A. Barth, L. A. Soderblom, G. B. Hansen, T. B. McCord, J. B. Dalton, R. N. Clark, A. C. Ocampo, J. H. Shirley, D. L. Matson.
  20. Sulfuric Acid on Europa and the Radiolytic Sulfur Cycle, Science, 286, 97-99 (1999), R. W. Carlson, R. E. Johnson, and M. S. Anderson.
  21. Electron bombardment of Europa, Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 673-676 (2001), C. Paranicas, R.W. Carlson, and R.E. Johnson.
  22. Production of sulfuric acid on Europa: Radiolysis of sulfur in water ice, Icarus 157, 456-463 (2002), R. W. Carlson, M. S. Anderson, M. B. Schulman, A. Yavrouian, and R. E. Johnson.
  23. Fresh ammonia ice clouds in Jupiter I: Spectroscopic identification, spatial distribution, and dynamical implications, Icarus 154, 74-94 (2002), K. H. Baines, R. W. Carlson, and L. W. Kamp.
  24. Radiolysis and photolysis on the Galilean satellites, in Jupiter, Cambridge Univ, Press, (2004), R. E. Johnson, R. W. Carlson, J. F. Cooper, C. Paranicas, and M. H. Moore.
  25. Distribution of hydrate on Europa: Further evidence for sulfuric acid hydrate, Icarus 177, 461-471 (2005), R. W. Carlson, M. S. Anderson, R. Mehlman, and R. E. Johnson.
  26. Surface composition of Io, in Io after Galileo, Ed. by R. Lopes and J. Spencer, Praxis, (2006), R. W. Carlson, J. S. Kargel, S. Doute, L. Soderblom, and J. B. Dalton.
  27. Clathrate hydrates of oxidants in the europan ice shell. Astrobiology 6, 463-482 (2006). Hand, K. P., R. W. Carlson, J. F. Cooper, and C. F. Chyba.
  28. Optical constants of ammonia ice and ammonium hydrosulphide ice, J. Opt. Soc. Amer., B-Optical Physics 24, 126-136, (2007), C. J. A. Howett, R. W. Carlson, P. G. J. Irwin, and S. B. Calcutt.
  29. The radiolysis of SO2 and H2S in water ice: Implications for the icy Jovian satellites, Icarus 189, 409-423 (2007), M. H. Moore, R. L. Hudson, and R. W. Carlson.
  30. Europa's Surface Composition. EUROPA, U. of Arizona Press, (2009), R. W. Carlson, W. Calvin, J. B. Dalton, G. Hansen, R. Hudson, R. E. Johnson, T. B. McCord, and M. H. Moore.
  31. Astrobiology and the Potential for Life at Europa. EUROPA, U. of Arizona Press, (2009), K. P. Hand, C. F. Chyba, J. C. Priscu, R. W. Carlson, and K. H. Nealson.
  32. The Exploration History of Europa. EUROPA, U. of Arizona Press, (2009), C. Alexander, R. W. Carlson, G. Consolmagno, R. Greeley, D. Morrison.
  33. Sputtering of Ices. In: Science of Solar System Ices. Springer. Johnson, R. E., Carlson, R. W., Cassidy, T. A., Fama, M., 2012.
  34. H2O2 production by high-energy electrons on icy satellites as a function of surface temperature and electron flux. Icarus. 212, 736-743 (2011). Hand, K. P., Carlson, R. W.
  35. Laboratory spectroscopic analyses of electron irradiated alkanes and alkenes in solar system ices. J. Geophys. Res.. 117, E03008 (2012). Hand, K. P., Carlson, R. W.
  36. Observed Ices in the Solar System. In: Science of Solar System Ices. Springer (2012). Clark, R. N., Carlson, R., Grundy, W., Noll, K.
  37. Chromophores from photolyzed ammonia reacting with acetylene: Application to Jupiter's Great Red Spot. Submitted to Icarus, February 2013. Presented at the 2012 Division of Planetary Sciences Meeting, Reno NV October 2012. R. W. Carlson. K. H. Baines, M. S. Anderson, and G. Filacchione.
  38. Spectroscopy from Space, Chapter 4 in Spectroscopic methods in Mineralogy and Material Sciences, Final version submitted February 2013. Roger N. Clark,, Gregg A Swayze, Robert Carlson, Will Grundy, and Keith Noll.
  39. Absorption properties of sulfuric acid in Venus's spectral window region. In preparation, to be submitted to J. Geophys. Res., presented at the 2011 uropean Planetary Science Conference, Nice, France, Nov. 2011. R. W. Carlson and M. S. Anderson.
  40. Sun-Plunging Comets and Chromospheric Cometary Flares, In preparation, presented at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, 2012. J. C. Brown and R. W. Carlson.

Group Home Page
People in this Group
Group Projects

JPL Privacy Statement Sitemap Contact Site Manager