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 Planetary Chemistry and Astrobiology (3225): People
Steven  Vance's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 321-560
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
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Curriculum Vitae:

Steven Vance

Steve is an early career scientist and lead for the Habitability team of JPL's Icy Worlds Astrobiology group, part of NASA's Astrobiology Institute. After obtaining his PhD in Geophysics and Astrobiology from the University of Washington, in Seattle, Dr. Vance came to JPL as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow. He joined JPL as a staff scientist in 2010.

Steve studies the interiors of icy bodies like Jupiter's moon, Europa, drawing primarily on expertise in the chemistry of fluids at high pressures. Steve's work address questions of ocean composition, dynamics, and habitability through simulations of icy world ocean chemistry in the laboratory, coupled with theoretical models of fluid circulation in deep oceans. He and the icy worlds team hope to determine chemical signatures of habitability that may make their way to their host body's surface. Steve works with field-deployable instruments for detecting signs of life, or biomarkers. This work may reveal clues to life's origin on Earth and elsewhere, and provides insight about possible analogues on Mars.

  • B.S. Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz (2000)
  • Ph.D. Astrobiology and Geophysics, University of Washington (2007)


Europa Mission Icon Europa Mission

NASA's Europa mission will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Jupiter's moon Europa to investigate whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.

Professional Experience
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2007-present)
    • Research Scientist, Planetary Chemistry and Astrobiology Group (2010 - Present)
    • Caltech Postdoc (2009 - 2010)
    • NASA Postdoctoral Fellow (2007 - 2009)
  • University of Washington, Seattle (2001-2007)
    • Research Assistant
  • Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (2003-2004)
    • Research Associate
  • Institut für Planetologie, Münster (2003)
      Research Associate
  • UCO/Lick Observatory (2001)
    • Research Associate
  • University of California, Santa Cruz (1998-2001)
    • Research Assistant

Selected Awards
  • NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship (2007-2008)
  • Misch Fellowship (2007)
  • Stephens Graduate Support Grant (2006)
  • National Science Foundation IGERT/NASA Astrobiology Institute Grant (2002-2005)
  • Research support, University of Washington Alumni Grant, Winter and Spring (2001)
  • Elks National Foundation Scholarship, 1996-2000 / Kern County Elks Scholarship (1996)
  • Howard and Mamie Nichols Scholarship (1996-2000)
  • Texaco Foundation Scholarship (1996-2000)

Selected Publications
  1. S. Vance and J. Brown. Thermodynamic properties of aqueous MgSO4 to 800 MPa at temperatures from -20 to 100oC and concentrations to 2.5 mol kg-1 from sound speeds, with applications to icy world oceans. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 110:176-189, 2013.
  2. Vance, S., L. E. Christensen, C. R. Webster and K. Sung, 2011. Volatile Organic Sulfur Compounds as Biomarkers Complementary to Methane: Infrared Absorption Spectroscopy of CH3SH Enables in Situ Measurements on Earth and Mars. Planetary and Space Science 59, 299-303.
  3. Sohl, F., M. Choukroun, J. Kargel, J. Kimura, R. Pappalardo, S. Vance and M. Zolotov, 2010. Subsurface Water Oceans in Icy Satellites: Chemical Composition and Exchange Processes. Space Science Reviews, Europlanet Volume on Icy Satellites 1-26, DOI 10.1007/s11214-010-9646-y.
  4. Vance, S. and J.M. Brown, 2009. Sound Velocities and Thermodynamic Properties of Water to 700 MPa and -20 to 100 oC. JASA 127(1), 174-180.
  5. Vance, S. and J. Goodman, 2009. Physical Oceanography of an Ice-covered Moon. EUROPA, University of Arizona Press.
  6. Som, S. M., Z. R. Adam and S. Vance, 2009. Use the Water: In-Situ Resource Technology for Icy-Surface Landers. Acta Astronautica 64, 1006-1010.
  7. Vance, S. and J.M. Brown 2008. The Icy Satellite Interior Simulator, an Apparatus for Optical Measurements in Aqueous Systems in the range -20 to 100 oC and 700 MPa. Rev. Sci. Inst. 79(1), 105105.
  8. Vance, S., J.M. Brown, E.H. Abramson and N. Castle, 2008. Equations of State for Aqueous MgSO4 to 2.0 m, 700 MPa from -20 to 100°C. in preparation for submission to Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta.
  9. Vance, S., J., Harnmeijer, J. Kimura, H. Hussmann, B. de Martin and J. M. Brown, 2007. Hydrothermal Systems in Small Ocean Planets. Astrobiology 7(6), 987-1005.
  10. Vance, S., 2005. Exploration & Characterization of Europa. in The Astrobiology Primer: An Outline of General Knowledge|Version 1, 2006. Eds. L.J. Mix, J.C. Armstrong, A.M. Mandell, A.C. Mosier, J. Raymond, S.N. Raymond, F.J. Stewart, K. von Braun, and O. Zhaxybayeva. Astrobiology 6, 735-813.
  11. Vance, S. 2005. Exploration & Characterization of Europa. in The Astrobiology Primer: An Outline of General Knowledge|Version 1, 2006. Eds. L.J. Mix, J.C. Armstrong, A.M. Mandell, A.C. Mosier, J. Raymond, S.N. Raymond, F.J. Stewart, K. von Braun, and O. Zhaxybayeva.Astrobiology 6, 735-813.
  12. Vance, S. and J. M. Brown, 2005. Layering and Double-Diffusion Style Convection in Europa's Ocean. Icarus 177, 506-514.
  13. Vance, S., 2003. Signs of Liquid Water; Life on Jupiter's Moon Europa? Planets & Life, A Newsletter of the Center for Astrobiology and Early Evolution 5, 4.

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