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 Laboratory Studies: People
Murthy  Gudipati's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 183-301
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109

Murthy Gudipati

Principal Scientist
Born and raised in southern India, Dr. Murthy Gudipati went to several schools in rural villages and urban colleges before receiving M.Sc. (1981) at the University of Hyderabad, India and Ph.D. (1987) at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. After a 3 year post-doctoral collaboration with Prof. Josef Michl (at Austin, Texas), he joined University of Cologne, Germany in 1990, where he was awarded Habilitation in Physical Chemistry (tenure) in late 1998. In 2007, Dr. Gudipati joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he studies the evolution of ices in the universe.

Research Interests
  • Physics and Chemistry of Ices (Planetary, Interstellar, and Atmospheric)
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics
  • VUV to FIR Spectroscopy
  • Next Generation Space Instrumentation
  • Origins of Life

Murthy Gudipati's research interests can be broadly defined as understanding the physics and chemistry of interstellar and Solar System ices through laboratory simulations, observations and instrumentation or simply evolution of ices in the Universe. The three wings of this space endeavor are

  1. physics and chemistry of ices with applications to biology, chemistry, atmosphere, and astrophysics;
  2. space instrumentation to analyze organic matter on planets such as Mars; and
  3. observations and analysis of in-situ and remote data.

Murthy's research in the recent past has focused on physics and chemistry of cryogenic ices. This research builds on the over 15 years of earlier expertise on chemical physics / physical chemistry, spectroscopy, and photochemistry of atmospheric and organic molecules in cryogenic matrices. Most fascinating and still not well understood is the physics and chemistry of cryogenic ices, with applications ranging from evolution of icy bodies in the Solar System, in the interstellar medium; aerosol chemistry in Earth's atmosphere; chemistry of polar ices; and radiation biology. Knowledge acquired through laboratory experiments on ices is crucial in order to develop next generation instrumentation concepts for orbiter remote sensing, in-situ lander, rover, or manned missions.


Europa Mission Icon Europa Mission

NASA's Europa mission will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Jupiter's moon Europa to investigate whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.

Professional Experience

A short summer visit to NASA Ames Research Center in 2000 resulted in a long-term move from Germany to US in 2001. Since then Dr. Gudipati has been on the Faculty of University of Maryland, College Park and a visiting Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center.

Visiting Positions

  • NASA Ames Research Center, California, USA (2000)
  • Institute of Experimental Physics, Free University Berlin, Germany (1998)
  • Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany (1995)

  • Community Service

    Dr. Murthy Gudipati is the Editor-in-Chief of Earth, Moon, and Planets; Member of the Working Group for Laboratory Astrophysics (WGLA) of American Astronomical Society (AAS) - representing Planetary Sciences Community. Murthy is convinced that education is the only way to help change the world and that the first few years (K-6) are the most important formative years. He enjoys visiting local K-6 schools occasionally and talking to the children about science. Anyone interested in having him visit their school could contact him directly.

  • Dr. Gudipati's Science 101 talk at JPL on Ices of the Universe is available at: NASA's Solar System Exploration Lectures:

    Dr. Murthy Gudipati and Dr. Julie Castillo-Rogez (Eds): The Science of Solar System Ices (2013) - Springer, USA.

  • Selected Awards
    • NASA Group Achievement Award (2002)
    • German Science Foundation Habilitation Fellowship (1995)
    • Indian Institute of Science Best Thesis Award (Guha Medal) (1987)

    Selected Publications
    1. Macromolecular organic compounds from deep hydrothermal sites on Enceladus; Frank Postberg et al., Nature (in print)
    2. Evolution of Titan’s high-altitude aerosols under ultraviolet irradiation; Nathalie Carrasco, Sarah Tigrine, Lisseth Gavilan, Laurent Nahon, and Murthy S. Gudipati, Nature Astronomy (in print)
    3. UV–Vis Light-induced Aging of Titan’s Haze and Ice; Isabelle Couturier-Tamburelli, Nathalie Piétri, Vincent Le Letty, Thierry Chiavassa, and Murthy S. Gudipati. The Astrophysical Journal, 852:117 (10pp), 2018 January 10
    4. Photoinduced Reversible Electron Transfer Between the Benzhydryl Radical and Benzhydryl Cation in Amorphous Water−Ice; Soumya Radhakrishnan, Joel Mieres-Perez, Murthy S. Gudipati, and Wolfram Sander, Phys. Chem. A 121(2017)6405
    5. Stepwise heating of lunar anorthosites 60025, 60215, 65315 possibly reveals an indigenous noble gas component on the Moon; David V. Bekaert, Guillaume Avice, Bernard Marty, Bryana Henderson, Murthy S. Gudipati, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 218(2017)114
    6. Seasonal Exposure of Carbon Dioxide Ice on the Nucleus of Comet 67p/Churyumov-Gerasimenko; G. Filacchione et al. Science 354 (2016) 1563-1566; doi: 10.1126/science.aag3161
    7. Refractory and Semi-Volatile Organics at the Surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Insights from the VIRTIS/ROSETTA Imaging Spectrometer; Quirico, E. et al. Icarus 272 (2016) 32-47.
    8. Exposed water ice on the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko; G. Filacchione et al. Nature 529 (2016) 368–372; doi:10.1038/nature16190
    9. New experimental capability to investigate the hypervelocity micrometeoroid bombardment of cryogenic surfaces; Andrew O. Nelson, Richard Dee, Murthy S. Gudipati, Mihály Horányi, David James, Sascha Kempf, Tobin Munsat, Zoltán Sternovsky, and Zach Ulibarri. Sci. Inst. 87 (2016) 024502.
    10. Cometary Science with the James Webb Space Telescope; Michael S. P. Kelley, Charles E. Woodward, Dennis Bodewits, Tony L. Farnham, Murthy S. Gudipati, David E. Harker, Dean C. Hines, Matthew M. Knight, Ludmilla Kolokolova, Aigen Li, Imke de Pater, Silvia Protopapa, Ray W. Russell, Michael L. Sitko, and Diane H. Wooden. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific; 128(2016)018009.
    11. Observing Outer Planet Satellites (Except Titan) with the James Webb Space Telescope: Science Justification and Observational Requirements; Laszlo Keszthelyi1, Will Grundy, John Stansberry, Anand Sivaramakrishnan, Deepashri Thatte, Murthy Gudipati, Constantine Tsang, Alexandra Greenbaum, and Chima McGruder. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific; 128(2016)018006.
    12. Laboratory Studies Towards Understanding Comets; Murthy S. Gudipati, Ninette Abou Mrad, Jürgen Blum, Steven B. Charnley, Thierry Chiavassa, Martin A. Cordiner, Grégoire Danger, Fabrice Duvernay, Bastian Gundlach, Paul Hartogh, Ulysse Marboeuf, Olivier Mousis, Irakli Simonia, Tsitsino Simonia, Patrice Theulé, Rui Yang Space Science Reviews 2015; DOI 10.1007/s11214-015-0192-5
    13. Simulation of Titan's atmospheric photochemistry: Formation of non-volatile residue from polar nitrile ices. Couturier-Tamburelli, N. Piétri, M. S. Gudipati; Astronomy and Astrophysics A&A 578, A111 (2015); DOI:
    14. 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: The Organic-rich surface of a Kuiper Belt comet as seen by VIRTIS/Rosetta; Rosetta VIRTIS team Science 347 (28 January 2015) aaa0628
    15. Direct Detection of Complex Organic Products in Electron-Irradiated Astrophysical and Cometary Ice Analogs using Two-Step Laser Ablation and Ionization Mass Spectrometry; Bryana L. Henderson and Murthy S. Gudipati Astrophysical Journal 800 (2015) 66 (17pp); DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/800/1/66
    16. Mixing of the Immiscible: Hydrocarbons in Water Ice Near the Ice Crystallization Temperature; Antti Lignell and Murthy S. Gudipati Journal of Physical Chemistry 119 (2015) 2607-13, DOI: 10.1021/jp509513s) NASA News Feature: NASA News Feature: Why Comets Are Like Deep Fried Ice Cream
    17. Plume Composition and Evolution in Multicomponent Ices Using Resonant Two-Step Laser Ablation and Ionization Mass Spectrometry; Bryana L. Henderson and Murthy S. Gudipati, Journal of Physical Chemistry A 118 (2014) 5454-5463; DOI: 10.1021/jp503111k
    18. Spectroscopic studies of non-volatile residue formed by photochemistry of solid C4N2: a model of condensed aerosol formation on Titan; Isabelle Couturier-Tamburelli; Murthy Gudipati; Nathalie Piétri; Antti Lignell; Ronen Jacovi Icarus 234 (2014) 81-90.
    19. Laboratory Determination of the Infrared Band Strengths of Pyrene Frozen in Water Ice: Implications for the Composition of Interstellar Ices E. E. Hardegree-Ullman, S. Gudipati, A. C. A. Boogert, H. Lignell, L. J. Allamandola, K. R. Stapelfeldt, M. Werner The Astrophysical Journal 784 (2014) 172 (11 pp)
    20. Novel Two-Step Laser Ablation and Ionization Mass Spectrometry (2S-LAIMS) of Actor-Spectator Ice Layers: Probing Chemical Composition of D2O Ice Beneath a H2O Ice Layer; Rui Yang, Murthy S. Gudipati Chem. Phys. 140 (2014) 104202 (7pp).
    21. Complementary and Emerging Techniques for Astrophysical Ices Processed in the Laboratory; M. A. Allodi, R. A. Baragiola, G. A. Baratta, M. A. Barucci, G. A. Blake, Ph. Boduch, J. R. Brucato, C. Contreras, S. H. Cuylle, D. Fulvio, S. Gudipati, S. Ioppolo, Z. Kañuchová, A. Lignell, H. Linnartz, M. E. Palumbo, U. Raut, H. Rothard, F. Salama, E. V. Savchenko, E. Sciamma-O'Brien, and G. Strazzulla  Space Science Reviews 180 (2013) 101-175.
    22. Photochemical Activity of Titan's Low-Altitude Condensed Haze; Murthy S. Gudipati, Ronen Jacovi, Isabelle Couturier-Tamburelli, Antti Lignell, Mark Allen Nature Communications 4 (2013) 1648; DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2649/ncomms2649; NASA Press Release “NASA Team Investigates Complex Chemistry at Titan”; Editor’s Choice “Simulating Titan’s Atmosphere” Science 340 (2013) 250-251.
    23. In-situ Probing of Radiation-Induced Processing of Organics in Astrophysical Ice Analogs – Novel Laser Desorption Laser Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectroscopic Studies; Murthy S. Gudipati and Rui Yang Astrophysical Journal Letters 746 (2012) L24. NASA Press Release “Brewing organics on ice”.
    24. The Impact of Recent Advances in Laboratory Astrophysics on our Understanding of the Cosmos; D. W. Savin, N. S. Brickhouse, J. J. Cowan, R. P. Drake, S. R. Federman, G. J. Ferland, A. Frank, S. Gudipati, W. C. Haxton, E. Herbst, S. Profumo, F. Salama, L. M. Ziurys, and E. G. Zweibel; Reports on Progress in Physics 75 (2012) 036901 Top 10% downloaded article from IOP Publishing in the first quarter of 2012!
    25. Survival Depth of Organics in Ices under Low-energy Electron Radiation; Irene Li Barnett, Antti Lignell, and Murthy S. Gudipati; Astrophysical Journal 747 (2012) 13 (11pp) – News Coverage through Astrobiology Magazine and other news agencies throughout the world.
    26. Charged Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Clusters and the Galactic Extended Red Emission; Young Min Rhee, Timothy J. Lee, Murthy S. Gudipati, Louis J. Allamandola, and Martin Head-Gordon; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 104 (2007) 5274. NASA Press Release: “NASA Finds Evidence for New Molecular Structure in Space”
    27. Matrix-Isolation in Cryogenic Water Ices: Facile Generation, Storage and Optical Spectroscopy of Aromatic Radical Cations; Gudipati, M. S. Phys. Chem. 108 (2004) 4412



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