4800 Oak Grove Drive
Samuel is an Ocean Worlds Scientist in the Planetary Interiors and Geophysics Group at JPL, where he primarily works on constraining processes that support the habitability of worlds within our solar system that contain deep, unexplored oceans. Dr. Howell supports the exploration of Ocean Worlds as Project Staff Scientist on the Europa Clipper mission, and leads science development for multiple future concepts to enable planetary ice shell and ocean access. Samuel is the Principal Investigator of the NASA-funded ORCAA Project, which will conduct an analogue science mission to Europa by accessing a subglacial lake in the Juneau Icefield with a planetary “cryobot,” and is the Deputy Principal Investigator and Lead Scientist for JPL's PRIME, a technology concept to explore the interior oceans of Ocean Worlds, as well as derivative proposals and technologies. Dr. Howell is also Co-Investigator and the Lead Scientist for NASA’s SWIM technology concept, which looks further into the future at potential avenues to explore alien oceans using swarm microrobotics.
Samuel obtained his B.S. in Engineering Physics from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with a concentration in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Thermal Fluid Mechanics. He obtained his M.S. and PhD in Geology and Geophysics University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where he explored planetary-scale process through studies of local surface features. His research on Earth, the first-discovered Ocean World, focused on the simple understanding that observable features are fingerprints of the planetary processes at depth: failure, flow, melting, mixing, and material transport. Samuel’s graduate research garnered national attention, including a 2016 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award for innovation detecting and predicting motions on the San Andreas Fault.
Samuel’s current and proposed research concerns the mechanisms and timescales of ocean world material mixing and evolution, as well as the exchange of materials between interior oceans and outer ice shells. His postdoctoral research linking tectonic processes on Europa and Ganymede to the surface exposure of fossilized ocean material received NASA-wide coverage and the 2017 JPL Outstanding Postdoctoral Research Award in Planetary Science and Astrobiology. Subsequent studies of Ocean Worlds and their exploration technologies that Samuel has led or supported have been reported internationally.
In his spare time, he has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, completed triathlons and marathons, and serendipitously met his wife, Marissa, an expert on the surfaces of icy moons and exploration of the solar system.
PhD Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Dec. 2017
M.S. Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Aug. 2013
B.S. Engineering Physics, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, May, 2010
Howell, S., C. J. Bierson, K. Kalousová, E. J. Leonard, G. Steinbrügge, N. Wolfenbarger (2022, in production). Jupiter’s Ocean Worlds: Dynamic Ices and the Search for Life, in Ices in the Solar System: A Volatile Excursion from Mercury and the Moon to the Kuiper Belt and Beyond, Elsevier.
Lesage, E., H. Massol, S. Howell, F, Schmidt. (2022, in press). Viscoelastic deformation of freezing cryomagma reservoirs: Application to Europa. The Planetary Science Journal.
Pappalardo et al., incl. S. Howell (2022, in prod.). Ganymede’s Geology, in Ganymede, Cambridge Press.
Leonard, E. J., S. Howell et al. (2022). Finding order in chaos: Quantitative predictors of chaos terrain morphology on Europa. Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2021GL097309.
DiNicola, M., S. Howell, et al. (2022). Resurfacing: An Approach to Planetary Protection for Geologically Active Ocean Worlds. The Planetary Science Journal, doi:10.3847/PSJ/ac642d.
Howell, S.., et al. (2021). Ocean Worlds Exploration and the Search for Life, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, doi:10.3847/25c2cfeb.8920f9ae.
Ermakov et al., incl. S. Howell, (2021). A Recipe for the Geophysical Exploration of Enceladus, The Planetary Science Journal, doi:10.3847/PSJ/ac06d2.
Bairstow, B. Y. Lee, S. Howell, B. Donitz, M. Choukroun, S. Perl (2021). Thermal Analysis of Landers using Radioisotope Power Systems on Ice Worlds, IEEE, doi:10.1109/AERO50100.2021.9438303.
Howell, S., E. J. Leonard (2021, in press). Ocean Worlds: Interior Processes and Physical Environments, Handbook of Space Resources, Springer Publishing.
Howell, S., R. T. Pappalardo (2020). NASA’s Europa Clipper—a mission to a potentially habitable ocean world? Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/s41467-020-15160-9.
Zacny, K. et al., incl. S. Howell (2020). Extraterrestrial Drilling and Excavation, in Advances in Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Drilling: Ground, Ice, and Underwater, CRC Press, ISBN 9781138341500.
Howell, S., R.T. Pappalardo (2019). Can Earth-like plate tectonics occur in the outer ice shells of icy satellites? Icarus, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2019.01.011.
Howell, S., J-A. Olive, G. Ito. M. D. Behn, J. Escartin, B. Kaus (2019), Seafloor expression of oceanic detachment faults reflects gradients in mid-ocean ridge magma supply, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2019.04.001.
Howell, S., L. Chou, 18 others (2018). Centaur reconnaissance mission concept: Chariklo flyby and impact, Planetary and Space Science, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2018.07.008.
Howell, S., R.T. Pappalardo (2018). Band formation and ocean-surface interaction on Europa and Ganymede, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2018GL077594.
Howell, S., B. Smith-Konter, N. Frazier, X. Tong, D. Sandwell (2016). The vertical fingerprint of earthquake cycle loading in Southern California, Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo2741.
Howell, S., G. Ito, M. D. Behn, F. Martinez, J.-A. Olive, and J. Escartín (2016), Magmatic and tectonic extension at the Chile Ridge: Evidence for mantle controls on ridge segmentation, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., doi:10.1002/2016GC006380.
Olive, J.-A., M. D. Behn, G. Ito, W. R. Buck, J. Escartín, S. Howell (2015), Sensitivity of seafloor bathymetry to climate-driven fluctuations in mid-ocean ridge magma supply, Science, doi:10.1126/science.aad0715.
Howell, S., G. Ito, A.J. Breivik, A. Rai, R. Mjelde, B. Hanan, K. Sayit, P. Vogt (2014), The origin of the asymmetry in the Iceland hotspot along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from continental breakup to present-day, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2014.02.020.
INVITED TALKS and LECTURES