Skip Navigation

Jesse Tarnas

Photo of Jesse Tarnas


4800 Oak Grove Drive

Pasadena, CA 91109

Curriculum Vitae:

Click here

Member of:

Planetary Geosciences


Jesse is a planetary scientist broadly interested in planetary evolution, astrobiology, and space resources. He has studied subsurface habitability on Earth and Mars, past habitability and biosignature preservation potential on Mars, and has developed, tested, and applied new techniques for analyzing hyperspectral images. He is a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow and a Mars 2020 Science Team Collaborator. His research has included fieldwork in a variety of surface locations, as well as 2.4 km underground in Kidd Creek Mine. Approaches include remote sensing, modeling, spectroscopy, field geology, sample analysis, signal endmember extraction techniques, and Bayesian statistical methods.


  • Ph.D. Earth, Environmental and Planetary Science, Brown University (2021)
  • M.Sc. Earth, Environmental and Planetary Science, Brown University (2018)
  • B.A. Physics, Wesleyan University (2016)
  • B.A. with honors in Astronomy, Wesleyan University (2016)

Professional Experience

2020-Present NASA Postdoctoral Fellow
2016-2020 Graduate student at Brown University

Community Service

Journal reviewer, conference session convener and chair, undergraduate student mentor, numerous public outreach and engagement events. Served on multiple NASA proposal review panels.

Research Interests

Planetary evolution, astrobiology, habitability, water-rock-gas interactions, planetary surface processes, planetary subsurface processes, aqueous geochemistry, radiolytic chemistry, geosciences, spectroscopy, space resources

Selected Awards

2020 NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship, JPL
2020 Dissertation Fellowship, Brown University
2015 THINK STEM Fund Scholarship
2015 William James & Dorothy Bading Lanquist Fund Scholarship
2013 CT Space Grant Undergraduate Directed Campus Scholarship

Selected Publications

Earth-like habitable environments in the subsurface of Mars, J.D. Tarnas, J.F. Mustard, B. Sherwood Lollar, V. Stamenković, K.M. Cannon, J.-P. Lorand, T.C. Onstott, J.R. Michalski, O. Warr, A.M. Palumbo, A.-C. Plesa, Astrobiology (2021), 21, 7.

Successes and challenges of factor analysis target transformation applications to visible-to-near-infrared hyperspectral data, J.D. Tarnas, J.F. Mustard, X. Wu, E. Das, K.M. Cannon, C.B. Hundal, A.C. Pascuzzo, J.R. Kellner, M. Parente, Icarus (2021), 114402.

Joint Hapke Model and Spatial Adaptive Sparse Representation with Iterative Background Purification for Martian Serpentine Detection, X. Wu, X. Zhang, J.F. Mustard, J.D. Tarnas, H. Lin, Y. Liu, Remote Sensing (2021), 13(3), 500.

Bridge to the stars: A mission concept to an interstellar object, K. Moore, S. Courville,…J.D. Tarnas,…, C., Budney, Planetary and Space Science (2021), 105137.

Dynamic Aperture Factor Analysis/Target Transformation (DAFA/TT) for serpentine and Mg-carbonate mapping on Mars with CRISM near-infrared data, Honglei Lin, J. D. Tarnas, J. F. Mustard, Xia Zhang, Yong Wei, Weixing Wan, F. Klein, and J.R. Kellner, Icarus (2021), 114168.

Mars Extant Life: What’s Next? Conference Report, B.L. Carrier, D.W. Beaty, M.A. Meyer,…J.D. Tarnas,…, J. Xu, Astrobiology (2020), 20, 6.

Abiotic Sources of Molecular Hydrogen on Earth, F. Klein, J.D. Tarnas, W. Bach, Elements (2020), 16, 19-24.

Orbital identification of hydrated silica in Jezero crater, Mars, J.D. Tarnas, J.F. Mustard, H. Lin, T.A. Goudge., E.S. Amador-French, M.S. Bramble, C.H. Kremer, X. Zhang, Y. Itoh, M. Parente, Geophysical Research Letters (2019), 46, 22.

Scientific Exploration of Mare Imbrium with OrbitBeyond, Inc.: Characterizing the Regional Volcanic History of the Moon, A.M. Palumbo, A.N. Deutsch, M.S. Bramble, J.D. Tarnas,…, V. Vatsal, New Space (2019), 7, 3.

The next frontier for planetary and human exploration, V. Stamenković, L. W. Beegle, K. Zacny,…, J. D. Tarnas,…,R. Woolley, Nature Astronomy (2019), 3, 116-120.

Radiolytic H2 production on Noachian Mars: Implications for habitability and atmospheric warming, Tarnas, J. D.; Mustard, J. F.; Sherwood Lollar, B.; Bramble, M. S.; Cannon, K. M.; Palumbo, A. M.; Plesa, A.-C., Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2018), 502, 133-145.

Universal heating curve of damped Coulomb plasmas in a Paul trap, Tarnas, J. D.; Nam, Y. S.; Blümel, R., Physical Review A (2013), 88, 041401(R).


Mars 2020