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Catherine Elder

Photo of Catherine Elder


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-301

Pasadena, CA 91109



Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Planetary Interiors and Geophysics


  • Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona (2015)
  • B.A. in Astronomy, Cornell University (2008)

Professional Experience

  • Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2018-present)
  • Investigation Scientist, Europa Imaging System (EIS) on Europa Clipper (2019-present)
  • JPL science liaison to the Intrepid Pre-Decadal Mission Concept Study (2019-2020)
  • Co-Investigator, NASA Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration, “Next-generation cold object radiometer” (2021-2023).
  • Principal Investigator, NASA Lunar Data Analysis Program, “The Lunar Rock Size-Frequency Distribution and Implications for Rock Breakdown” (2019-2022).
  • Principal Investigator, NASA Lunar Data Analysis Program, “Mapping the Thickness of the Lunar Regolith Using a New Class of Young Craters” (2019-2022).
  • Co-Investigator, Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (2018-present)
  • Deputy Camera Scientist on Moon Diver NASA Discovery Step-1 proposal (2018-2019)
  • Principal Investigator, NASA OSIRIS-REx Participating Scientist Program, “Boulders on Bennu: Modeling Thermal Emission from Boulders for Yarkovsky Effect and Thermal Inertia Investigations” (2017-2020)
  • Science-PI, NASA Habitable Worlds, “Silicate Volcanism and the Habitability of Europa’s Seafloor (2017-2020)
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2015-2018)
  • Graduate Research Associate, University of Arizona (2009-2015)
  • Undergraduate researcher, Cornell University (2005-2008)

Research Interests

  • Planetary surface processes such as volcanism, tectonism, and impact cratering on rocky and icy bodies
  • Constraining the material properties of planetary surfaces using infrared observations and thermophysical modeling
  • Mantle convection with emphasis on the differences between stagnant lid convection, the heat pipe mechanism, and plate tectonics
  • The effects of internal heat loss on planetary surfaces through tectonics and volcanism

Selected Awards

  • JPL Voyager Award (2018)
  • JPL Postdoc Research Day Best Planetary Science and Life Detection Poster (2016)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU) Outstanding Student Paper Award (2014)
  • Uwingu Student Travel Grant (2014)
  • Lunar and Planetary Institute’s Career Development Award (2013)
  • Shandel Travel Award (2013)
  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) (2010 - 2013)

Selected Publications

  • B. Rozitis, A. J. Ryan, J. P. Emery, P. R. Christensen, V. E. Hamilton, A. A. Simon, D. C. Reuter, M. Al Asad, R.-L. Ballouz, J. L. Bandfield, O. S. Barnouin, C. A. Bennett, M. Bernacki, K. N. Burke, S. Cambioni, B. E. Clark, M. G. Daly, M. Delbo, D. N. DellaGiustina, C. M. Elder, R. D. Hanna, C. W. Haberle, E. S. Howell, D. R. Golish, E. R. Jawin, H. H. Kaplan, L. F. Lim, J. L. Molaro, D. P. Munoz, M. C. Nolan, B. Rizk, M. A. Siegler, H. C. M. Susorney, K. J. Walsh, D. S. Lauretta (2020) Asteroid (101955) Bennu’s weak boulders and thermally anomalous equator. Sci. Adv. 6, eabc3699.
  • Bottke, W. F., D. Vokrouhlicky ́, R.-L. Ballouz, O. S. Barnouin, H. C. Connolly, Jr., C. Elder, S. Marchi,T. J. McCoy, P. Michel, M. C. Nolan, B. Rizk, D. J. Scheeres, S. R. Schwartz, K. J. Walsh , D. S. Lauretta (2020) Interpreting the Cratering Histories of Bennu, Ryugu, and Other Spacecraft-explored Asteroids, The Astronomical Journal 160:14, 37pp.
  • Elder, C.M., B. Douglass, R.R. Ghent, P.O. Hayne, J.-P. Williams, J.L. Bandfield, E. Costello, (2019) The Subsurface Coherent Rock Content of the Moon as Revealed by Cold-Spot Craters. Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets 124, 3373-3384.
  • Walsh, K. J., E. R. Jawin, R-L. Ballouz, O. S. Barnouin, E. B. Bierhaus, H. C. Connolly, J. L. Molaro, T. J. McCoy, M. Delbo, C. M. Hartzell, M. Pajola, S. R. Schwartz, D. Trang, E. Asphaug, K. J. Becker, C. B. Beddingfield, C. A. Bennett, W. F. Bottke, K. N. Burke, B. C. Clark, M. G. Daly, D. N. DellaGiustina, J. P. Dworkin, C. M. Elder, D. R. Golish, A. R. Hildebrand, R. Malhotra, J. Marshall, P. Michel, M. C. Nolan, M. E. Perry, B. Rizk, A. Ryan, S. A. Sandford, D. J. Scheeres, H. C. M. Susorney, F. Thuillet, D. S. Lauretta & The OSIRIS-REx Team (2019) Craters, boulders and regolith of (101955) Bennu indicative of an old and dynamic surface. Nature Geoscience 12, 242-246.
  • DellaGiustina, D. N., J. P. Emery, D. R. Golish, B. Rozitis, C. A. Bennett, K. N. Burke, R-L. Ballouz, K. J. Becker, P. R. Christensen, C. Y. Drouet d’Aubigny, V. E. Hamilton, D. C. Reuter, B. Rizk, A. A. Simon, E. Asphaug, J. L. Bandfield, O. S. Barnouin, M. A. Barucci, E. B. Bierhaus, R. P. Binzel, W. F. Bottke, N. E. Bowles, H. Campins, B. C. Clark, B. E. Clark, H. C. Connolly Jr., M. G. Daly, J. de Leon, M. Delbo, J. D. P. Deshapriya, C. M. Elder, S. Fornasier, C. W. Hergenrother, E. S. Howell, E. R. Jawin, H. H. Kaplan, T. R. Kareta, L. Le Corre, J.-Y. Li, J. Licandro, L. F. Lim, P. Michel, J. Molaro, M. C. Nolan, M. Pajola, M. Popescu, J. L. Rizos Garcia, A. Ryan, S. R. Schwartz, N. Shultz, M. A. Siegler, P. H. Smith, E. Tatsumi, C. A. Thomas, K. J. Walsh, C. W. V. Wolner, X.-D. Zou, D. S. Lauretta & The OSIRIS-REx Team (2019) Properties of rubble-pile asteroid (101955) Bennu from OSIRIS-REx imaging and thermal analysis. Nature Astronomy 3, 341-351.
  • Elder, C. M., A. M. Bramson, L. W. Blum, H. T. Chilton, A. Chopra, C. Chu, A. Das, A. Davis, A. Delgado, J. Fulton, L. Jozwiak, A. Khayat, M. Landis, J. L. Molaro, M. Slipski, S. Valencia, J. Watkins, C. Young, C. J. Budney, K. L. Mitchell (2018) OCEANUS: A high science return Uranus orbiter with a low-cost instrument suite. Acta Astronautica 148, 1-11.
  • Hayne, P. O., J. L. Bandfield, M. A. Siegler, A. R. Vasavada, R. R. Ghent, J.-P. Williams, B. T. Greenhagen, O. Aharonson, C. M. Elder, P. G. Lucey, D. A. Paige (2017) Global Regolith Properties of the Moon from the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment. Jour- nal of Geophysical Research - Planets 122, 2371-2400.
  • Elder, C. M., P. O. Hayne, J. L. Bandfield, R. R. Ghent, J.-P. Williams, K. L. Donaldson Hanna, D. A. Paige (2017) Young Lunar Volcanic Features: Thermophysical Properties and Formation. Icarus 290, 224-237.
  • Elder, C. M., V. J. Bray, H. J. Melosh (2012) The Theoretical Plausibility of Central Pit Crater Formation Via Melt Drainage. Icarus 221, 831-843