Skip Navigation

Mark Swain

Photo of Mark Swain


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 169-506

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

Click here

Member of:

Exoplanet Discovery and Science

Group Supervisor


  • B.A., Physics, University of Virginia (1989)
  • M.A., Physics, University of Rochester (1992)
  • Ph.D., Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester (1996)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2006-current)
    • Research Scientist
    • PI for high-dynamic-range exoplanet spectroscopy project
    • PI of the THESIS Mission Concept
  • Visiting Astronomer, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (Heidelberg) (2005-2006)
  • Visiting Astronomer, Laboratoire dAstrophysique de Grenoble (2004-2005)
  • Adjunct Astronomer, Steward Observatory (2004-current)
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1998-2004)
    • Senior Member Technical Staff (2002-2004)
    • Member Technical Staff (1998-2002)
  • Cornell University, Astronomy Department (1996-1998)
  • Jr. Research Assistant, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (1992-1995)
  • Research & Teaching Assistant, University of Rochester (1988-1992)

Research Interests

My research interests are:The eventual goal of this work is to characterize exoplanets in the habitablezone. My science interests are connected to questions for whichsignificant increases in the measurement of dynamic range can have a largeimpact. Three questions I am currently very interested in are:

  1. observational characterization ofexoplanets,
  2. observational characterization of the environments inwhich exoplanets form, and
  3. development of techniques and building newinstrumentation for high-dynamic-range exoplanet spectroscopy.
  • Are there observable, systematic metallicity differences in thehot Jovian exoplanets, and what does this reveal about formationscenarios?
  • What role does water have in governing the atmospheric radiationbalance in exoplanet atmospheres?
  • What are the differences between the dayside and nightside onhot Jovian worlds?

Selected Awards

  • NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (2010)

Selected Publications

  1. Swain M. R., Deroo, P., Tinetti, G. Hollis, M., Tessenyi, M., Line, M., et al. 2013 "Probing the extreme planetary atmosphere of WASP-12b", Icarus, 225, 432.
  2. Swain, M. R., Deroo, P., Griffith, C. A., Tinetti, G., Thatte, A., Vasisht, G. et al. 2010 "A ground-based near-infrared emission spectrum of the exoplanet HD189733b", Nature, 463, 637.
  3. Swain, M. R., Tinetti, G., Vasisht, G., Deroo, P., Griffith, C., Bouwman, J., Chen, P., Yung, Y., Burrows, A., Brown, L.R., Maththews, J., Row, J. F., Kuschnig, R., & Angerhausen, D. 2009 "Water, Methane and Carbon Dioxide Present in the Dayside Spectrum of the Exoplanet HD 209458b", Astrophys. J, 704, 1616.
  4. Swain, M. R., Vasisht, G., Tinetti, G., Bouwman, J., Chen, P., Yung, Y., Deming, D., and Deroo, P. 2009 "Molecular Signatures in the Near Infrared Dayside Spectrum of HD 189733b". Astrophys. J. Letters, 960, 114.
  5. Swain, M. R., Vasisht, G., & Tinetti, G. 2008 "The presence of methane in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet", Nature, 452, 329.
  6. Swain, M.R., & Gallee, H. G. 2006, "Antarctic Boundary Layer Seeing," PASP, 118, 1190.
  7. Millan-Gabet, et al., 2005, "Keck Interferometer Observations of FU Orionis Objects," submitted.
  8. Swain, M.R., 2005, "The Potential of Exoplanet Science with Infrared Interferometry at Dome C," EAS, 14, 147.
  9. Monnier, J.D., et al. 2005, "The Near-Infrared Size-Luminosity Relations for Herbig Ae/Be Disks," ApJ, 624, 832.
  10. Swain, M.R., et al. 2004, "The Antarctic Planet Interferometer." Proc. SPIE, 5491, 176-184.
  11. Colavita, M.M., Swain, M.R., Akeson, R.L., Koresko, C.D., & Hill, R.J., 2004, "Effects of atmospheric water vapor on infrared interferometry," PASP, 116, 876-885.
  12. Smythe, R.F, Swain, M.R., Alvarez-Salazar, O.S., Moore, J.D., 2004, "Terrestrial Planet Finder cryogenic delayline development," SPIE, 5491, 1580.
  13. Wehmeier, U.J., Swain, M.R., Drouet D'Aubigny, C.Y., Golish, D.R., & Walker, C., 2004, "The potential of conductive waveguides for nulling interferometry," SPIE, 5491, 1435.
  14. Colavita, M.M., et al., 2003, "Observations of DG Tauri with the Keck Interferometer," Ap. J. Ltrs., 592, L83-L86.
  15. Swain, M.R., Coude du Foresto, V., Fossat, E., & Vakili, F., 2003, "The Antarctic Planet Interferometer and the Potential for Interferometric Observations of Extrasolar Planets from Dome C Antarctica," Mem. Soc. Astr. It. Sup. , 2, 207-212.
  16. Swain, M.R., et al., 2003, "Interferometer Observations of the Subparsec-scale Infrared Emission in the Nucleus of NGC 4151, Ap. J. Ltrs., 596, L153-L156.
  17. Giovanelli, R., et al., 2001, "The Optical/Infrared Astronomical Quality of High Atacama Sites. I. Preliminary Results of Optical Seeing," PASP, 113, 789-802.
  18. Akeson, R.A., Swain, M.R., Colavita, M.M., 2000, "Differential Phase Mode with the Keck Interferometer," SPIE, 4006, 321.
  19. Swain, M.R. et al., 1998, "Design of the South Pole Imaging Fabry-Perot Interferometer (SPIFI)," SPIE, 3354, 480.