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Christophe Sotin

Photo of Christophe Sotin


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 321-625

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:


Chief Scientist, Solar System Exploration Directorate (4X)


Christophe Sotin has been a Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2007. Prior to JPL, Christophe created a laboratory in planetary geology and geodynamics at the University of Nantes (France) where researchers use their skills in Earth Science to study other planets and icy satellites. He has participated in several missions - such as Cassini-Huygens, MarsExpress and VenusExpress. His research interests include the study of the internal structure and dynamics of the Earth, Mars, Venus, and the icy satellites of the giant planets. He has developed thermal evolution models of various planets and satellites, and has constrained them by observations of their atmosphere and surface geology. Recently, he has expanded his research to include the study of extrasolar planets. Christophe has mentored 18 Ph.D. students.


  • D.E.A. (Master degree) (Geophysics) Nancy University (1981)
  • Degree in Geological Engineering from Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie (ENSG) (1981)
  • Ph.D. (Geophysics) Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (1983)
  • Docteur d'Etat ès Sciences at Paris VII University (1986)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California (2007 - Present)
    • Chief Scientist, Solar System Exploration Directorate (4X) (2012 - Present)
    • Editor for Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2012 - Present)
    • Senior Research Scientist (2007 - Present)
  • University of Nantes, France (1992 - Present)
    • Professor 'classe exceptionelle' (2005 - 2007)
    • Director of 'Laboratoire de Planetologie & Geodynamique de Nantes' (2004 - 2007)
    • Professor (1993 - 2005)
  • University Paris XI at Orsay, France - Professor (1988 - 1992)
  • Brown University, Providence - Research Assistant (1986 - 1988)
  • University of Nantes - Assistant Professor (1985 - 1986)
  • Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris - Research Assistant (1983 - 1985)

Research Interests

  • Interior structure and dynamics of planets and icy moons
  • Exoplanets
  • Titan Geology

Selected Awards

  • Runcorn-Florensky Medal of the European Geoscience Union (2008)
  • Chevalier dans l'ordre des Palmes Académiques (January 2007)
  • Member of IAA (International Academy of Astronautics) (2003-present)
  • Member of 'Bureau des Longitudes' (January 2001-present)
  • Member of "Institut Universitaire de France" (1996-2001)
  • Three NASA Group Achievement Awards

Selected Publications

  1. Sotin C. et al (2012) Observations of Titan's Northern lakes at 5 microns: Implications for the organic cycle and geology; Icarus, 221, 768-786.
  2. Choukroun M. and C. Sotin (2012) Is Titan's shape caused by its meteorology and carbon cycle? Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L04201.
  3. Smrekar S.E. and C. Sotin (2012) Constraints on mantle plumes on Venus: Implications for volatile history; Icarus, 217, 510-523.
  4. Sotin, C., Jackson J.M., Seager S. (2010) Terrestrial planet interiors, University of Arizona Space Science Series, 375-395.
  5. Beghin C, Sotin C., Hamelin M (2010) Titan's Native Ocean Revealed Beneath Some 45 Km of Ice By A Schumann-Like Resonance; C.R. Acad. Sci., 342, 425-433.
  6. Lorenz R, Sotin C. (2010) The Moon That Would Be A Planet; Scientific American, 302, 36-43.
  7. Sotin, C., Mitri, G., Rappaport, N., Schubert, G., and Stevenson, D. (2009) Chapter 4: Titan's Interior Structure; In: Brown, R.H., Lebreton J-P., Waite, H. (Eds.), Titan, Springer-Verlag, 61-73.
  8. Sotin, C., Tobie, G., Wahr, J., and McKinnon, W. B. (2009) Tides and Tidal Heating on Europa; Pappalardo R. et al. (Eds), University of Arizona Space Science Series, 85-117.
  9. Grasset, O., Schneider, J., And Sotin, C. (2009) A Study of the Accuracy of Mass-Radius Relationships for Silicate-Rich and Ice-Rich Planets Up to 100 Earth; Astro. J., 693, 722-733.
  10. Quesnel, Y., Sotin, C., Langlais, B., Et Al. (2009) Serpentinization of the Martian Crust During Noachian; Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 277, 184-193.
  11. Tobie G., O. Cadek and C. Sotin (2008) Solid tidal friction above a liquid water reservoir as the origin of the south pole hotspot on Enceladus; Icarus, 196, 642-652.
  12. Sotin C. and G. Tobie (2008); Titan's hidden ocean; Science, 319, 1629-1630.
  13. Castillo J, Matson D, Sotin C, Johnson TV, Lunine JI, Thomas PC; (2007); Iapetus' Geophysics: Rotation Rate, Shape, and Equatorial Ridge; Icarus, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.02.018.
  14. Sotin, C. and Prieur, D. (2007)Jupiter's moon Europa: Geology and Habitability; In 'Complete Course in Astrobiology', G. Horneck & P. Rettberg (Eds.), Wiley-VCH, 253-271.
  15. Sotin C, Grasset O and Mocquet A; (2007); Mass-radius curve for extrasolar Earth-like planets and ocean planets; Icarus 191, 337-351.
  16. Sotin C; (2007); Titan's lost seas found; Nature 445: 29-30.
  17. Rodriguez, S., Le Mouélic, S., Sotin, C., Clénet, H., Clark, RN, Buratti, BJ; DP; Brown, RH; McCord, TB; Nicholson, PD, Baines, KH and the VIMS Science team, (2006), Cassini/VIMS hyperspectral observations of the Huygens landing site on Titan, Planet. Space Sci.; 54: 1510-1523.
  18. Tobie G., J. Lunine, Sotin C., (2006), Episodic outgassing as the source of atmospheric methane on Titan, Nature, 440, , doi :10.1038/nature04497, 61-64.
  19. Tobie G., Mocquet A., Sotin C., (2005), Tidal dissipation within large icy satellites : Europa and Titan, Icarus, 177, 534-549.
  20. Sotin C. et al., (2005), Release of volatiles from a possible cryovolcano from infrared imaging, Nature, 435, doi :10.1038/nature03596, 786-789.
  21. Tobie G., O. Grasset, J. Lunine, Mocquet A., Sotin C., (2005), Titan's orbit provides evidence for a subsurface ammonia-water ocean, Icarus, 175, 496-502.
  22. McCord T. and Sotin C., (2005), Ceres Evolution and current state, J. Geophys. Res., 110, doi:10.1029/2004JE002244, E05009.
  23. Sotin C. and Tobie G., (2004), Internal structure and dynamics of the large icy satellites, C. R. Acad. Sci. Physique, 5, 769-780.
  24. Eberle M., Grasset O., Sotin C., (2002), A numerical study of the interaction between the mantle wedge, subducting slab and overriding plate, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 134, 191-202.
  25. Sotin C., Head J., Tobie G., (2002) Europa: Tidal heating of upwelling thermal plumes and the origin of lenticulae and chaos melting, Geophys. Res. Lett.., 29, 8, 74-1 - 74-4
  26. Choblet G., Sotin C., (2001), Early transient cooling of Mars, Geophys. Res. Lett.., 28, 3035-3038.
  27. Deschamps F., Sotin C., (2001), Thermal convection in the outer shell of large icy satellites, J. Geophys. Res., 106, 5107-5121.
  28. Choblet G., Sotin C., (2000), 3D thermal convection models of fluids with variable viscosity : comparison between secular cooling and volumetric heating, Phys. Earth Planet. Inter., 119, 321-336.
  29. Grasset O., Sotin C., Deschamps F., (2000), On the internal structure and dynamics of Titan, Planet. Space Sci., 48, 617-636.
  30. Parmentier E. M. and Sotin C., (2000), 3D numerical experiments on thermal convection in a very viscous fluid : implications for the dynamics of a thermal boundary layer at high Rayleigh number. Phys. Fluids, 12, 609-617.
  31. Sotin C. and Labrosse S., (1999), Thermal convection in an isoviscous, infinite Prandtl number fluid heated from within and from below : applications to the transfer of heat through planetary mantles, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 112, 171-190.
  32. Sotin C., Grasset O. and Beauchesne S. (1997). Thermodynamic properties of high pressure ices : Implications for the dynamics and internal structure of large icy satellites, B. Schmitt et al. (eds.), Solar System Ices, p. 79-96.
  33. Grasset O., Sotin C., (1996), The cooling rate of a liquid shell in Titan's interior, Icarus, 123, 101-112.
  34. Vacher P., Mocquet A., Sotin C., (1996), Comparisons between tomographic structures and models of convection in the upper mantle, Geophys. J. Int., 124, 45-46.
  35. Dupeyrat L., Sotin C., Parmentier E.M., (1995), Thermal and chemical convection in planetary mantles, J. Geophy. Res., 100, 497-520. (11)
  36. Dupeyrat L., Sotin C., (1995), The effect of the transformation of basalt to eclogite on the internal dynamics of Venus, Planet. Space Sci., 43, 909-921.
  37. Parmentier EM, Sotin C, Travis BJ, (1994), Turbulent 3D thermal convection in an infinite Prandtl number, volumetrically heated fluid : implications for mantle dynamics, , Geophys. J. Int, 116: 241-251. (19)
  38. Sotin C, Senske DA, Head, JW, Parmentier EM, (1989), Terrestrial spreading centers under Venus conditions : evaluation of a crustal spreading center for Western Aphrodite Terra, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 95, 321-333. (28)
  39. Sotin C, Parmentier EM, (1989), Dynamical consequences of compositional and thermal density stratification beneath spreading centers, Geophys. Res. Lett., 16, 835-838. (65)
  40. Sotin C, Parmentier EM, (1989), On the stability of a fluid layer containing a univariant phase transition : Application to planetary interiors, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 55, 10-25. (8)
  41. Poirier J-P., Sotin C., Peyronneau J., (1981), Viscosity of high-pressure ice VI and dynamics of Ganymede, Nature, 292, 225-227.