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S. Sona Hosseini

Photo of S. Sona Hosseini


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-601

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

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Dr. Sona Hosseini is a planetary scientist and a technologist who studies low-density gas environments in our solar system and beyond; she conceptualizes innovative technology to enable novel fundamental measurements in future NASA missions.

Hosseini’s interest in astronomy was initiated on a school field trip to NASA Houston Center when she was seven. She ground the mirrors, built her first telescope in junior high, and moved on to building darkroom cameras and grating spectrometers later in high school and college; she used all for her projects and observing the night sky and solar eclipse. Her ground-based sky brightness measurements from the central and western sites in Iran during her B.S. and M.S. pioneered sky brightness measurements for Iran’s national observatory sites - her report was used and cited in more than 20 countries.

Hosseini has over a decade of hands-on experience developing Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometry (SHS) technology. During her graduate program at the University of California Davis, she developed a visible-SHS for detecting Sodium D-lines (5889.95Å and 5895.92Å doublet) at Mt. Hamilton over four years, 2011-2015 and pioneered the mathematical and analytical analysis for the cyclical SHS technique. Hosseini has led numerous studies to simulate and study low-density gas environments in our solar system, such as exospheres, cometary tail and coma, space weathering, and planetary atmospheres. She enjoys working with students and has mentored over 60 students in astronomy science modeling studies and instrument hardware development and is active in outreach events by giving presentations to students in schools and her local community clubs.

Hosseini is the recipient of the 2022 NASA Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship (RTF) award for her research on reforming Astrophysics Far-UV science investigation and developing new technologies to fill the current measurement and science gaps. Her recent publication, “Implications of surface roughness in models of water desorption on the Moon,” was featured in NASA and JPL press releases. Before that, Hosseini received the 2020 SPIE Early Career Achievement Award; her publication, “Characterization of Cyclical Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometers for Astrophysical and planetary studies,” was selected for the Applied Optics March 2019 Issue cover.


  • 2008 – 2015, Ph.D., Engineering Applied Science, College of Engineering, University of California Davis, CA.
  • 2008 – 2010, M.S. in Science, Engineering Applied Science, College of Engineering, University of California Davis, CA.
  • 2005 – 2006, M.S. in Science, Physics, and Astronomy, University of Zanjan, Iran.
  • 2000 – 2004, B.S. in Physics, Physics, and Minor in Atomic Physics, University of Isfahan, Iran.

Professional Experience

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2015 - Present)

  • JPL research and Instrument Scientist,
  • Leading the JPL next generation of miniaturized high-resolution spectrometry lab and team

University of California Davis (2008-2015)

  • Graduate Student Researcher Department of Engineering Applied Science

Community Service

  • SPIE IT Committee member (2021 – present)
  • SPIE Scholarship Committee member (2017 – 2020)
  • Roadmap to Ocean Words (ROW) committee member (2016 - 2018)
  • SPIE  Future Leaders Committee member (2012 - 2015)
  • Division of Planetary Science Subcommittee on Professional Climate Committee member (2015 - Present)
  • SPIE Publication Committee member, student representative (2012 - Present)
  • Committee Chair, SPIE  Future Leaders Committee (2014- 2015)
  • Member of the International UNESCO Committee "Optics Under 40" for the International Year of Light 2015 (2014 - 2015)
  • Organizer of the Grad Student and Postdoc Social Event for Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) meetings (2010-2014)
  • AGU (American Geophysical Union) Planetary Sciences Session Student Survey Facilitator (2012-2014)
  • UC Davis Information Technology Committee member (2012-2015)
  • Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) Discoveries in Planetary Science Slide, translator to Farsi (2012-2013)
  • UC Davis OSA/SPIE Chapter Officer,  UC Davis, CA
  • Organizer of the public viewing of the transit of Venus, SPIE/ OSA student chapter, UC Davis Campus, CA (2012)
  • Organizer of the Solar Annular Eclipse Viewing, SPIE/ OSA student chapter, Black Butte Lake, CA (2012)
  • Organizer of the Applied Science Exhibition and Laser Maze event, UC Davis Picnic Day, UC Davis, CA (2011-2013)
  • AGU Planetary Science Education Working Group member (2012- Present)
  • AGU (American Geophysical Union) Planetary section student representative (2012 -2015)
  • UCD Graduate Student Association Representative at UCD Distinguished Teaching Awards Committee, UC Davis, CA (2010 - 2012)
  • UC Davis OSA (Optical Society of America)/SPIE Chapter President,  UC Davis, CA (2011-2012)

Research Interests

Developing next generation of miniaturized high-resolution spectrometers in UV & Visible wavelength ranges for space missions to study:

  • Lunar exosphere and surface water budget and evolution; studying sources and sinks of water and volatile migration across the moon and other airless bodies
  • Interstellar Medium, the Circumgalactic Medium (CGM) around nearby galaxies, and the Astrospheres around dying stars; investigating the detailed view of density, temperature, and spatio-kinematic structure in UV to address fundamental science questions in Cosmic Ecosystems and Unveiling the Drivers of Galaxy Growth
  • Solar Corona; studying high (> 10 MeV) Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) in far-UV to investigate how the seed particle abundance vary with time and how their presence relates to SEP production

Selected Awards

  • NASA 2022 Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship (RTF) Award
  • The 2020 SPIE Early Career Achievement Award – Government/Industry Focus
  • NASA Earth And Space Science Fellowship (NESSF), Planetary Sciences Category (2013-2015)
  • Young Scholar Award, Association of Professors and Scholars of Iranian Heritage (APSIH), UCLA, CA (2014)
  • Graduate Dissertation Award, Association of Professors and Scholars of Iranian Heritage, UCLA, CA (2014)
  • John Kiel Scholarship in Optics and Photonics for Potential of Long Term Contribution in Optical Sciences to Optics Society sponsored by SPIE (2012)
  • Golden Key International Honor, University of California Davis, CA (2009)

Selected Publications

  • Björn J. R. Davidsson, Sona Hosseini, “Implications of surface roughness in models of water desorption on the Moon”, MNRAS 000, 1–10 (2021)
  • R. Maggiolo,. .., Sona Hosseini, “The Effect of Cosmic Rays on Cometary Nuclei. II. Impact on Ice Composition and Structure”, The Astrophysical Journal, 901:136 (13pp), October 1 (2020)
  • Guillaume Gronoff, …, Sona Hosseini, “The Effect of Cosmic Rays on Cometary Nuclei. I. Dose Deposition”, The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 890, Number 1 (2020). See article here.
  • Sona Hosseini and Walter M. Harris "Khayyam, a tunable, cyclical spatial heterodyne spectrometer on Mt. Hamilton," Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems 6(1), 015005 (2020). See article here.
  • Sona Hosseini, “Characterization of cyclical Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometers for astrophysical and planetary studies,” Applied Optics, Vol. 58, No. 9 (2019) [The magazine Applied Optics featured this article in its March 20, 2019 issue, and chose an image from this article for its cover page.] See article here.
  • Bjorn Davidsson, Sona Hosseini, et al., “Deciphering the Protostellar Disk Evolution Recorded by Cometary Deuterated Water,” A White Paper submitted to the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey Astro 2020 for the Planetary Systems and Star and Planet Formation Thematic Science Areas (2019). See article here.
  • Amanda Hendrix, …, Sona Hosseini, et al., “The NASA Roadmap to Ocean Worlds,“ Astrobiology, Vol. 19, No. 1 (2018). See article here.
  • Raghvendra Sahai, Sona Hosseini, “AMUSS – Astrophysics Miniaturized UV Spatial Spectrometer”, RFI NNH17ZDA010L: Possible NASA Astrophysics SmallSats, Topic 1: Science Mission Concepts (2017)
  • Sona Hosseini, Walter Harris, “Khayyam: progress and prospects of coupling a spatial heterodyne spectrometer (SHS) to a Cassegrain telescope for optical interferometry,” Conference Proceeding, Vol. 9907 (2016)
  • Sona Hosseini, et al., “Concept study for a compact homodyne astrophysics spectrometer for exoplanets (CHASE),” Conference Proceeding, Vol. 9905 (2016)
  • Sona Hosseini, "Tunable Reflective Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometer: A Technique for High Resolving Power, Wide Field Of View Observation Of Diffuse Emission Line Sources", Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California Davis, July (2015).
  • K. J. Meech,…, Sona Hosseini, …, et al,, "EPOXI: Comet 103P/Hartley 2 Observations from a Worldwide Campaign", The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 734: L1 (9pp), June 10 (2011)
  • Kasting, James, …, Sona Hosseini, …, et al. , "Exoplanet Characterization and the Search for Life", Astro2010: The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, Science White Papers, no. 151 (2011)
  • Sona Hosseini, et al., "A Second Generation Tunable Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometer for Ground-Based Observations of Diffuse Emission Line Targets", Fourier Transform Spectroscopy (FTS) proceeding, (2011)
  • Lotfi Ben-Jaffel, Sona Hosseini, “On the Existence of Energetic Atoms in the Upper Atmosphere of Exoplanet HD209458b”, The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 709, Issue 2, pp. 1284-1296 (2010)
  • Sona Hosseini, "Theoretical and Experimental Investigation of Sky Brightness for Site Selection of Large Observatories", Master’s Thesis, Zanjan University, Zanjan, Iran, July (2006)
  • Sona Hosseini, “Investigation of Extra solar system planets: existence and formation“, Bachelor's Thesis, Isfahan Univ., Isfahan, Iran, July (2004)