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Erin Leonard

Photo of Erin Leonard


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-301

Pasadena, CA 91109

Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Planetary Geosciences


Erin Leonard is currently a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on geomorphologic mapping of icy satellites, structural analysis of the surface features, and how these surface observations can lead to implications for the subsurface or evolution of the body. Erin is the lead author on the new global geologic map of Europa for the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) that has been accepted and is currently in press. She also has a particular interest in the Ice Giant systems, with an emphasis on detecting and characterizing Ocean Worlds, and actively aids in formulating and advocating for missions to these systems. Inspired by the work she has done for Europa Clipper Project Science, Erin is also interested in the interface between science and engineering, especially as it relates to operations, systems engineering, and management.


  • June 2019 - Ph.D., Planetary Geology, University of California Los Angeles
  • May 2014 - B.S., Astrophysics and Planetary Science, University of California Berkeley

Professional Experience

Professional Experience

  • 2022 – pres. Project Staff Scientist, Europa Clipper
  • 2021 – pres. Science Sampling Task Lead, Europa Lander Pre-Project
  • 2019 – 2022 Postdoctoral Fellow, JPL
  • 2019 – 2022 Project Science Postdoctoral Affiliate, Europa Clipper
  • 2017 – 2019 Project Science Graduate Affiliate, Europa Clipper
  • 2014 – 2019 Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, UCLA Dept. of EPSS

Selected Projects

  • 2022 JPL Topical RTD Co-I – Enceladus Subsurface Plumbing (PI – S. Howell)
  • 2020 JPL Strategic Research Development Co-I – Uranian Moons (PI – T. Nordheim)
  • 2020 NASA ROSES ECF Co-I – Geology of Pwyll and Manannan (PI – J. Scully)
  • 2020 NASA ROSES SSW Co-l – Europa Tectonics and Habitability (PI – S. Howell)
  • 2017 NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (Planetary Science), (PI, 2 years)

Selected Professional Activities

  • 2023 Primary Convener, “Ice Giant System Science and Exploration” European Geophysical Union (EGU) Spring Meeting
  • 2022 Co-Convener, “The Ice Giants: Exploring the Planetary Systems of Uranus and Neptune”, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting
  • 2022 – pres. Steering Committee, NASA RCN, Network for Ocean Worlds (NOW)
  • 2021 – pres. Co-Author, Europa Lander Terrain Specification Document (TSD)
  • 2021 Primary Convener, “In Situ Science and Instrumentation for the Exploration of Europa and Ocean Worlds”, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting
  • 2020 – pres. Co-Organizer and Chair, “Friends of Hoth: Geology of Icy Satellites and Small Bodies” at Geological Society of America Fall Meetings (every year, 2020-pres.)
  • 2020 – 2022 Lead Editor of the Europa Clipper mission Rules of the Road (RoTR) Document
  • 2019 – pres. Co-Organizer of the 32X ICE (Icy Collaboration and Exchange) seminar series
  • 2018 – pres. Review panelist for NASA Grant Proposals, ~1 per year.

Community Service

  • 2021 Evaluator, Society for Science, Regeneron High School Science Talent Search
  • 2021 Advisor, MIT 16.83 Enceladus Mission Class
  • 2019 Women in Planetary Science Panelist, Long Beach Comic Con
  • 2018 Cassini at Enceladus Booth Organizer, Explore Your Universe (EYU)
  • 2017 UCLA Grad Slam Finalist (See Video)

Selected Awards

  • 2021 JPL Voyager Award - Europa Clipper mission Rules of the Road development
  • 2019 NASA Group Achievement Award - Europa Global Geologic Map
  • 2018 UCLA EPSS Excellence in Academic Performance and Research Potential
  • 2018 Early Career Travel Award – Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG)
  • 2017 Paul M. Furukawa Memorial Fellowship Award
  • 2016, 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award Awarded by UCLA

Selected Publications

  • E. J. Leonard, D. A. Patthoff, and D. A. Senske (in press). The Europa Global Geologic Map. United States Geologic Survey.
  • Howell, S., C. Bierson, K. Klarasova, E. J. Leonard, G. Steinbrugge, and N. Wolfenbarger (in press). Icy moons of the Jovian system, Ices in the Solar System: A Volatile-Excursion from Mercury and the Moon to the Kuiper Belt and Beyond, Elsevier Science Publishing.
  • Howell, S., and E. J. Leonard (in press). Ocean Worlds: Interior Processes and Physical Environments, NASA Handbook of Space Resources, Springer Publishing.
  • E. J. Leonard, Howell, S., Mills, A., Senske, D.A., Patthoff, D.A., Hay, H.C.F.C. and Pappalardo, R.T., 2022. Finding order in chaos: Quantitative predictors of chaos terrain morphology on Europa. Geophysical Research Letters, p.e2021GL097309.
  • Beddingfield, C.B., E. J. Leonard, Cartwright, R.J., Elder, C. and Nordheim, T.A. (2022). High Heat Flux near Miranda’s Inverness Corona Consistent with a Geologically Recent Heating Event. The Planetary Science Journal, 3(7), p.174.
  • Beddingfield, C.B., Cartwright, R.J., E. J. Leonard, Nordheim, T. and Scipioni, F. (2022). Ariel's Elastic Thicknesses and Heat Fluxes. The Planetary Science Journal, 3(5), p.106.
  • Zheng, W., et al., 2022. The Lick Observatory Supernova Search follow-up program: photometry data release of 70 SESNe. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 512(3), pp.3195-3214.
  • Cartwright, Richard J., et al., 2022. A CO2 Cycle on Ariel? Radiolytic Production and Migration to Low-latitude Cold Traps. The Planetary Science Journal, 3(1), p.8.
  • E. J. Leonard, A. Yin, and R. T. Pappalardo (2021). Forming Relic Cratered Blocks: Left‐Lateral Shear on Enceladus Inferred From Ice‐Shell Deformation in the Leading Hemisphere. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 126(2), e2020JE006499.
  • E. J. Leonard, et al., 2021. UMaMI: A New Frontiers-style Mission Concept to Explore the Uranian System. The Planetary Science Journal, 2(5), p.174.
  • Cartwright, Richard J., et al., 2021. The science case for spacecraft exploration of the Uranian satellites: Candidate ocean worlds in an ice giant system. The Planetary Science Journal, 2(3), p.120.
  • Titus, T.N., et al. 2021. A roadmap for planetary caves science and exploration. Nature Astronomy, 5(6), pp.524-525.
  • E. J. Leonard, C. Elder, T. Nordheim, R. Cartwright, D. A. Patthoff, C. Beddingfield, M. Tiscareno, N. Strange, and T. Balint, and 98 cosigners (2020). A New Frontiers Class Mission for the Uranian System that Focuses on Moon, Magnetosphere, and Ring Science. White Paper submitted in Response to the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023–2032.
  • E. J. Leonard, Yin, A., and Pappalardo, R. T. (2020). Ridged Plains on Europa Reveal a Compressive Past. Icarus. p.113709.
  • S. Jarmak, E. J. Leonard, et al. (2020). QUEST: A Mission Concept for a New Frontiers Style Uranus Orbiter. Acta Astronautica, 170, pp.6-26.
  • E. J. Leonard, R. T. Pappalardo, and A. Yin (2018). Structural analysis of very-high-resolution Galileo images of Europa: Implications for surface evolution. Icarus, 312, pp.100-120.