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Bertrand Mennesson

Photo of Bertrand Mennesson


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-900

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Exoplanet Discovery and Science


Dr. Bertrand Mennesson received his Ph.D. in Astrophysics and Space Techniques from Paris Diderot University in 1999, and then joined JPL in March 2001. His expertise is in the design, assembly and scientific exploitation of high-contrast high-resolution optical systems – coronagraphs, interferometers and starshades- used for astronomical imaging. His main scientific focus is on the direct detection and spectroscopy of exoplanetary systems, ultimately leading to the search for life on Earth-like exoplanets, through the use of new instruments and data reduction techniques. Dr Mennesson is the author or co-author of over 200 publications in specialized journals and at professional conferences.


  • M.S., Engineering, Ecole des Mines, France (1993)
  • M.S., Astrophysics and Space Techniques, University of Paris VII (1994)
  • Ph.D., Astrophysics and Space Techniques, University of Paris VII (1999)

Professional Experience

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (2001 – Present)

  • Principal Scientist
  • Science co-chair of the Technical Assessment Group for the Habitable Worlds Observatory
  • JPL Roman Space Telescope Deputy Project Scientist (since 2019)
  • Center Study Scientist and STDT co-chair, Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (HabEx) large mission concept study (2015-2019)
  • Principal Investigator, near-infrared characterization of hot exo-zodiacal disks around nearby stars, NASA Exoplanets Research Program (2013 - 2016)
  • NASA/LBTI Key Science team member. Defining data acquisition, analysis and calibration strategies for exo-zodi survey (2012 - 2020)
  • Optics Lead for the Integration, Test and Scientific Commissioning of the Keck Interferometer Nulling Beam Combiner (2001-2007)
  • TPF-I Mission Deputy Project Scientist (2002-2006)
  • Leiden Observatory / ESTEC, Netherlands, Research Associate (2000)

Research Interests

  • High contrast high resolution astronomical imaging
  • Extrasolar planets and debris disks
  • Evolved stars
  • Wavefront correction / achromatization techniques

Selected Awards

  • 2021 JPL Explorer Award for science leadership of the HabEx flagship mission concept study
  • 2020 JPL Voyager Award for initiating and publishing an analysis of the technology importance of the Roman Space Telescope Coronagraph Instrument
  • 2020 NASA Honor Award for concluding that typical amounts of exozodi dust around sun-like stars will likely not preclude the search for life on Earth-like exoplanets
  • 2017 JPL Voyager Award: clearly articulated the WFIRST Coronagraph Instrument scientific, technical and programmatic value to NASA to the WIETR review panel

Selected Publications

  1. Mennesson, B., Bailey, V.P., Zellem, R. et al. 2022, The Roman Space telescope coronagraph technology demonstration: current status and relevance to future missions, SPIE 12180
  2. Gaudi, S., Seager, S., Mennesson, B. et al. 2019, The Habitable Exoplanet Observatory mission concept (HabEx) study report
  3. Mennesson, B., Kennedy, G., Ertel, S. et al. 2019, Interplanetary dust around main sequence stars: origin, magnitude, and implications for exoplanet habitability searches, BAAS, 51, 324
  4. Mennesson, B., Millan-Gabet, R., Serabyn E. et al. 2014, Constraining the Exozodiacal Luminosity Function of Main Sequence Stars : Complete Results from the Keck Nuller Mid-infrared Surveys, ApJ, 797, 119
  5. Mennesson B., Absil O., Lebreton J. et al. 2013, An Interferometric Study of the Fomalhaut Debris Disk. II. Keck Interferometer Nuller Mid-Infrared Observations, ApJ 763, 119
  6. Serabyn E, Mennesson B. Colavita M. et al. 2012, The Keck Interferometer Nuller, ApJ, 748, 55
  7. Mennesson B., Serabyn E., Hanot, C. et al. 2011, New Constraints on Companions and Dust within a few AU of Vega, ApJ 736, 14
  8. Mennesson B., Hanot C., Serabyn E. et al. 2011, High Contrast Stellar Observations within the Diffraction Limit at the Palomar Hale Telescope, ApJ, 743, 178
  9. Mawet, D., Mennesson, B., Serabyn E. et al. 2011, A dim candidate companion to epsilon Cephei, ApJ, 738, 12
  10. Mennesson B. et al. 2005, The Dusty AGB Star RS CrB: First Mid-Infrared Interferometric Observations with the Keck Telescopes. ApJ Letters, 634, 169
  11. Cotton W.D., Mennesson B., Diamond P.J. et al. 2004. VLBA Observations of SiO Masers towards Mira variable stars. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 414, 275
  12. Mennesson B., Perrin, G., Coude du Foresto, V. et al. 2002, Evidence for very extended gaseous layers around O-rich Mira variables and M giants. ApJ 579, 446
  13. Mennesson, B., Mariotti, J.M, Coude du Foresto, V. et al. 1999, Thermal infrared stellar interferometry using single-mode guided optics: first results with the TISIS experiment at IOTA, A&A, 346, 181
  14. Mennesson, B. & Mariotti, J.M. 1997, Array configurations for a space infrared nulling interferometer dedicated to the search for Earthlike extrasolar planets, Icarus, 532, 281
  15. Leger, A., Mariotti, J.M., Mennesson B. et al. 1996, Could we search for primitive life on extrasolar planets in the near future? Icarus, 123, 249