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Karl Stapelfeldt

Photo of Karl Stapelfeldt


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 321-161

Pasadena, CA 91109

Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Astrophysics & Space Sciences

Chief Scientist, NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program


  • PhD., Astrophysics with graduate minor in Planetary Sciences, Caltech  (1991)
  • B.S.E., Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Physics, Princeton University (1984)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Astrophysics & Space Sciences Section
    • Senior Research Scientist (2021-present)
    • Chief Scientist, NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program (2016-present)
    • Principal Scientist (2005-2011)
    • Research Scientist (2000-2005)
    • Scientist (1994-2000)
    • Postdoctoral Fellow (1993-1994)
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center – Astrophysics Science Division
    • Chief, Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics (2011-2016)
  • University of Massachusetts at Amherst – Department of Astronomy
    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow (1990-1993)

Research Interests

  • Astrophysics:  Protoplanetary and debris disks, exoplanets, star formation
  • Techniques:  Optical, infrared, and mm-wave observations; coronagraphy; scattered light and spectral energy distribution modeling of circumstellar disks
  • Missions:  Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 Science Team, Spitzer Space Telescope Project Science Office, Herschel Space Observatory, LBTI Exozodi Key Science Team
  • Mission studies: HabEx, LUVOIR, Exo-C (Study Chair), WFIRST, ACCESS, ATLAST, Terrestrial Planet Finder Coronagraph (Acting/Deputy Project Scientist), Eclipse

Selected Awards

  • Muhlmann Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific to the Spitzer Space Telescope Team (2010)
  • AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Award (2009)

Selected Publications

  1. Stapelfeldt, K., Rauer, H., Roberge, A., and Mandel, A. 2021 “Space Missions for Exoplanet Science”, Chapter 9 in EXOFRONTIERS: BIG QUESTIONS IN EXOPLANETARY SCIENCE (invited review chapter), N. Madhusudhan ed. IOP Press, in press
  2. Villenave, M., Ménard, F., Dent, W. R. F., Duchêne, G., Stapelfeldt, K. R. et al. 2020 "Observations of edge-on protoplanetary disks with ALMA. I. Results from continuum data" A.&A. 642 A164
  3. Faramaz, V., Krist, J.E., Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. 2019 "From Scattered-light to Millimeter Emission: A Comprehensive View of the Gigayear-old System of HD 202628 and its Eccentric Debris Ring " A.J. 158 162
  4. Robinson, T., Stapelfeldt, K., Marley, M (2016) “Characterizing Rocky and Gaseous Exoplanets with 2-meter Class Space-based Coronagraphs: General Considerations” P.A.S.P. 128 5003
  5. Stapelfeldt, K. et al. (2015) Exo-C Mission Study Final Report, NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program internal document at
  6. Krist, J., Stapelfeldt, K., Bryden, G., and Plavchan, P. (2012) "Hubble Space Telescope Observations of the HD 202628 Debris Disk", A.J. 144 45
  7. Su, K.Y.L, Rieke, G.H, Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. (2009) “The Debris Disk around HR 8799”, Ap.J. 678 985
  8. Kalas, P. et al. (2008) "Optical Images of an Exosolar Planet 25 Light-Years from Earth" Science 322 1345
  9. Rebull, L.M., Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. (2008) “Spitzer/MIPS Observations of Stars in the beta Pictoris Moving Group” Ap.J. 681 1484
  10. Watson, A.M., Stapelfeldt, K.R., Wood, K., and Menard, F. (2007) "Multiwavelength Imaging of Young Stellar Object Disks: Toward an  Understanding of Disk Structure and Dust Evolution", in PROTOSTARS AND PLANETS V., B. Reipurth, D. Jewitt, and K. Kiel eds, Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson, pp. 523-538.
  11. Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. (2004) “First Look at the Fomalhaut Debris Disk  with the Spitzer Space Telescope", Ap.J.Suppl. 154 458
  12. Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. (2003) “Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 Imaging of the Disk and Jet of HV Tauri C", Ap.J. 589 410
  13. Krist, J., Stapelfeldt, K. et al. (2000) “WFPC2 Images of a Face-On Disk Surrounding TW Hydrae", Ap.J. 538 793.
  14. McCaughrean, M., Stapelfeldt, K., and Close, L. (2000) "High Resolution  Optical and near-Infrared Imaging of Young Circumstellar Disks", review arcticle in PROTOSTARS AND PLANETS IV, V. Mannings, A. Boss, and S. Russell eds., Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson, p. 485
  15. Padgett, D.L., Brandner, W., Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. (1999) “HST/NICMOS Imaging of Disks and Envelopes Around Very Young Stars" A.J. 117 1490
  16. Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. (1998) “An Edge-on Circumstellar Disk in the  Young Binary System HK Tauri", Ap.J. 502 L65
  17. Burrows, C.J., Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. (1996) “HST Imaging of the Disk and Jet of HH 30", Ap.J. 473 437
  18. Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. (1995) “WFPC2 Imaging of the Circumstellar Nebulosity of HL Tauri", Ap.J. 449 888
  19. Stapelfeldt, K.R. et al. (1991) “Near Infrared Narrowband Images of  Three Herbig-Haro Objects", Ap.J. 371 226