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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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Member of:

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Dr. Sona Hosseini is a planetary scientist and an instrument developer who has led many research and instrumentation projects working closely with scientists and engineers from different disciplines. She has mentored over 50 students in astronomy studies and instrument development. Hosseini’s interest in astronomy was initiated when she was seven years old on a school field trip to NASA Houston Center. She built her first telescope in Junior High and moved on to building amateur dark room cameras, and grating spectrometers. Her passion led her to actively get involved in amateur astronomy projects and work with university professors and astronomy graduate students on various cosmology and astronomy projects. Her apparatuses and measurements from the central and western sites in Iran during her B.S. and M.S. pioneered sky brightness measurements for Iran National observatory sites in which her report was used and cited in more than 16 countries. During her Ph.D. program in the U.S., she developed the theoretical architecture of the reflective Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometers (SHS) and lived on Mt. Hamilton, 2010-2014 to construct and develop a reflective Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometer (SHS) coupled to a Cassegrain telescope to faint extended astronomical targets such as comets. Since joining JPL, Hosseini has led numerous studies to simulate and study low-density gas environments in our solar system and conceptualized innovative technology to enable such measurements in future NASA missions. These concepts include missions to study the Martian atmosphere, cometary coma, planetary exospheres, planetary atmospheric tails and aurora, galaxy structures, and interplanetary and interstellar matter. Dr. Hosseini uses creativity and innovation to address critical issues and exercises discretion and independent judgment in evaluating potential approaches and solutions to critical problems and determining appropriate resolutions. In her science and instrument development activities, she leads groups of 30+ people across science, engineering and software development and frequently interacts with partners and other NASA centers and makes decisions as to policies, procedures, and practices in her leadership role. In parallel to her JPL duties, Hosseini is active in outreach events and gives regular presentations to students in schools and her local community clubs.


  • 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,
  • Leadership and management of the next generation JPL miniaturized high-resolution spectrometry lab and team
  • Co-advisor of Aerospace Engineering undergraduate course in the University of Michigan

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

Science research interest:

  • Role of water in Solar System formation and evolution
  • Lunar exosphere and volatile migration across the Lunar surface
  • Cometary science and evolution,
  • Exoplanetary atmospheres,

Instrumentation and technology research interest:

  • Next generation of miniaturized high resolution spectrometers
  • High spectral resolution Spectrometers and Interferometers, UV-VIS-IR

Selected Awards

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Voyager Award for pioneering work in the development of low mass spatial heterodyne spectrometers suitable for spacecraft mission applications (2020)
  • 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, Chris Webster, et al., “Concept study for a compact planetary homodyne interferometer (PHI) for global temporal observation of methane on Mars in IR,” Conference Proceeding, Vol. 9904 (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).
  • Sona Hosseini, Walter Harris, “Khayyam, a tunable spatial heterodyne spectroscopy (SHS): first calibration and visible-wavelength observations”, Proc. SPIE 9147, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V, 91478L (July 8, 2014); doi:10.1117/12.2055862
  • Sona Hosseini, et al., " Khayyam: a tunable spatial heterodyne spectrometer for observing diffuse emission line targets ", Proc. SPIE 8446, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy IV, 84464K (October 5, 2012); doi:10.1117/12.925513;
  • 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)
  • Sona Hosseini,  Walter Harris, "Khayyam: a second generation tunable spatial heterodyne spectrometer for broadband observation of diffuse emission line targets", Proc. SPIE 8146, 814617 (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)
  • Sona Hosseini, et al., “Tunable Spatial Heterodyne Spectroscopy (TSHS): A New Technique for Broadband Visible Interferometry”, Optical and Infrared Interferometry II. Edited by Danchi, William C.; Delplancke, Françoise; Rajagopal, Jayadev K. Proceedings of the SPIE, Volume 7734, June (2010)