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James Sinclair

Photo of James Sinclair


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-601

Pasadena, CA 91109



Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Planetary And Exoplanetary Atmospheres


James is a research scientist at JPL.  His research interests include the interaction between Jupiter’s stratosphere and its aurora and the structure, chemistry and seasonal evolution of the stratospheres of the outer planets.  This work involves the measurement and analysis of several datasets including mid-infrared observations from the Cassini and Voyager missions as well as Earth-based observations measured on the VLT, NASA’s IRTF, Gemini-North and Subaru. He grew up in Aberdeen in the United Kingdom.


  • DPhil Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics, University of Oxford (2014)
  • MPhys Astrophysics, University of St. Andrews (2010)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech

May 2018 – Present                     Research Scientist II

January 2018 – May 2018            Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar

January 2015 – January 2018       NASA Postdoctoral Fellow

  • University of Oxford, United Kingdom

2014-2015                                 Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Proposal Wins

  • Co-investigator, NASA Rosette Data Analysis Program, 2019-2022, Radiative coupling of dust and gas in the coma of comet 67P. 
  • Principal Investigator, SOFIA Guest Observer, Cycle 7, Auroral-related heating and chemistry at Jupiter’s high latitudes”.  
  • Principal Investigator, Keck Principal Investigator Data Award, 2019B, Uranus from Equinox to Mid-Spring: Tropospheric Temperatures, Seasonal Changes, and Emerging Rings.
  • Co-investigator, NASA Solar System Observations Program, 2019-2022, Tracking variability in Jupiter’s Atmosphere: Support for the Juno mission. 
  • Science Principal Investigator, NASA Solar System Observations Program, 2018 - 2021, High Temporal-Cadence Observations of Jupiter’s Stratospheric Heating and Chemistry During the Juno Mission from Subaru-COMICS and SOFIA-EXES

Community Service

  • Panelist for NASA review panels
  • Reviewer for journals including Icarus, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, Nature and Nature (Astronomy).

Research Interests

  • The stratospheres of the outer planets
  • Stratosphere-auroral interactions on Jupiter
  • Seasonal evolution of Saturn
  • Mid-infrared imaging/spectroscopy and retrieval analysis

Selected Awards

  • Sir Arthur Clarke Award, British Interplanetary Society (2018)
  • JPL Voyager award (2018)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, CIRS, Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer Team (2018)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, Composite Infrared Spectrometer Investigation Team (2018)

Selected Publications

  1. Sinclair, J. A., Moses, J. I., Hue, V., Greathouse, T. K., Orton, G. S., Fletcher, L. N., Irwin P. G. J., 2019b. ‘Jupiter’s auroral-related stratospheric heating and chemistry III: Abundances of C2H4, CH3C2H, C4H2 and C6H6 from Voyager-IRIS and Cassini-CIRS, Icarus 328, 176-193.
  2. Sinclair, J. A., Orton, G. S., Fernandes, J., Kasaba, Y., Sato, T. M., Fujiyoshi, T., Tao, C., Vogt, M. F., Grodent, D., Bonfond, B., Moses, J. I., Greathouse, T. K., Dunn, W., Giles, R. S., Tabataba-Vakili, F., Fletcher, L. N., Irwin, P. G. J., 2019a. ‘A brightening of Jupiter’s auroral 7.80-μm CH4 emission during a solar-wind compression’, Nature Astronomy 3, 607-613.
  3. Sinclair, J. A., Orton, G. S., Greathouse, T. K., Fletcher, L. N., Moses, J. I., Hue, V., Irwin, P. G. J., 2018, Jupiter's auroral-related stratospheric heating and chemistry II: Analysis of IRTF-TEXES spectra measured in December 2014, Icarus 300, 305-326
  4. Sinclair, J. A., Orton, G. S., Greathouse, T. K., Fletcher, L. N., Tao, C., Gladstone, G. R., Adriani, A., Dunn, W., Moses, J. I., Hue, V., Irwin, P. G. J., Melin, H., Giles, R. S., 2017b, Independent evolution of stratospheric temperatures in Jupiter's northern and southern auroral regions from 2014 to 2016, Geophysical Research Letters 44, 5345-5354.
  5. Sinclair, J. A., Orton, G. S., Greathouse, T. K., Fletcher, L. N., Moses, J. I., Hue, V., Irwin, P. G. J.,Jupiter's auroral-related stratospheric heating and chemistry I: Analysis of Voyager-IRIS and Cassini-CIRS spectra, Icarus 292, 305-326.
  6. Fletcher, L. N., Irwin, P. G. J., Sinclair, J. A., Orton, G. S., Giles, R. S., Hurley, J., Gorius, N., Achterberg, R. K., Hesman, B. E., Bjoraker, G. L., 2014, Seasonal Evolution of Saturn’s Polar Temperatures and Composition, Icarus 250, 131-152.
  7. Fletcher, L. N., Greathouse, T. K., Orton, G. S., Irwin, P. G. J., Mousis, O., Sinclair, J. A., Giles, R. S., 2014, The origin on nitrogen on Jupiter and Saturn from the 15N/14N ratio, Icarus 238, 170 – 190.
  8. Sinclair, J. A., Irwin, P. G. J., Fletcher, L. N., Greathouse, T., Guerlet, S., Hurley, J., Merlet, C., 2014, From Voyager-IRIS to Cassini-CIRS: Interannual variability in Saturn’s stratosphere?, Icarus 233, 281-292.
  9. Sinclair, J. A., Irwin, P. G. J., Fletcher, L. N., Moses, J. I., Greathouse, T. K., Friedson, A. J., Hesman, B., Hurley, J., Merlet, C., 2013, Seasonal variations of temperature, acetylene and ethane in Saturn’s atmosphere from 2005 to 2010, as observed by Cassini-CIRS, Icarus 225, 257-271.
  10. Vosper, S. B., Wells, H., Sinclair, J. A., Sheridan, P. F., 2012, A climatology of lee waves over the UK derived from model forecasts, Meteorological Applications 20(4), 466-481.
  11. Fletcher, L. N., Hesman, B. E., Achterberg, R. K., Irwin, P. G. J., Bjoraker, G., Gorius, N., Hurley, J., Sinclair, J., Orton, G. S., Legarreta, J., Garcia-Melendo, E., Sanchez-Lavega, A., Read, P. L., Simon-Miller, A. A., Flasar, F. M., 2013, The origin and evolution of Saturn’s 2011-2012 stratospheric vortex, Icarus 221, 560 – 586.
  12. Sinclair, J. A., Helling, Ch., Greaves, J. S., 2010, The impact of stellar model spectra in disc detection, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 409(1), L49-L53.