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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 as a technical staff in March 2001. His expertise is in the design, assembly and scientific exploitation of infrared interferometers and optical coronagraphs used for high contrast, high resolution astronomical imaging (IOTA, PTI, Keck, Palomar, CHARA, LBT). His main scientific interests lie in the direct detection of extrasolar planets and debris disks, stellar physics (observations / modeling of evolved stars atmospheres and dust shells), and wavefront correction / achromatization techniques. Dr Mennesson is the author or co-author of over 200 publications in specialized refereed 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
  • JPL Deputy WFIRST Project Scientist
  • Center Study Scientist and STDT co-chair, Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx) concept study. HabEx is one of 4 possible future large strategic missions being considered by NASA and the astronomical community. 
  • 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 - Present)
  • 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

  • JPL Voyager Award for exceptional contributions to the WFIRST mission Independent External Technical Review (WIETR, 2017)
  • JPL Team Award for outstanding contributions to the AFTA Coronagraph Working Group Team (architecture down-select, 2014)
  • JPL Team Award for outstanding contributions to the Exoplanet Exploration Coronagraph Technology Group (2010, 2011)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award for outstanding team work in implementing the Keck Interferometer Nuller (2008)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award for developing technology for combining light from the two Keck telescopes (2005)NASA Tech Brief Award 2004: A white light nulling interferometer for imaging and spectroscopy of extra-solar planetary systems (2004)

Selected Publications

Gaudi, S., Seager, S., Mennesson, B. et al. 2019, The Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (HabEx) Mission Concept Study Final report

  1. Ruane, G., Mawet D., Mennesson, B. et al. 2018, Vortex coronagraphs for the Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx) concept: theoretical performance and telescope requirements, JATIS, 4a, 5004
  2. 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, Astrophysical Journal, 797, 119.
  3. Mawet D. et al. 2013, Ring-apodized vortex coronagraphs for obscured telescopes. I. Transmissive ring apodizers, ApJS, 209, 7.
  4. Mennesson, B. et al. 2013, An Interferometric Study of the Fomalhaut Inner Debris Disk. II. Keck Nuller Mid-infrared Observations, ApJ, 763,119.
  5. Serabyn, E.; Mennesson, B.; Colavita, M. M.; Koresko, C.; Kuchner, M. J. 2012, The Keck Interferometer Nuller, ApJ, 748, 55.
  6. Mennesson B., Serabyn E., Hanot C. et al. 2011, New Constraints on Companions and Dust within a few AU of Vega, ApJ 736, 14
  7. Mennesson B., Hanot, Serabyn et al. 2011, High Contrast Stellar Observations within the Diffraction Limit at the Palomar Hale Telescope, ApJ, 743
  8. Mawet D., Mennesson B., Serabyn E. et al. 2011, A Dim Candidate Companion to epsilon Cephei, ApJ, 738, 12
  9. Hanot C., Mennesson B., Martin S. et al. 2011, Improving Interferometric Null Depth Measurements using Statistical Distributions: Theory and First Results with the Palomar Fiber Nuller, ApJ, 729, 110
  10. Serabyn E. et al. 2009, Imaging Faint Brown Dwarf Companions Close to Bright Stars with a Small, Well-corrected Telescope Aperture. ApJ 696, 40
  11. Absil O., Mennesson B., Lebouquin J.P. et al. 2009, A Study of the Fomalhaut Inner Debris Disk. I. Near-Infrared Detection of Hot Dust with VLTI/VINCI. ApJ 704, 150
  12. Serabyn E. et al. 2007, Extreme Adaptive Optics Imaging with a Clear and Well-Corrected Off-Axis Telescope Subaperture, ApJ 658, 1386
  13. Mennesson B., et al. 2005, The Dusty AGB Star RS CrB: First Mid-Infrared Interferometric Observations with the Keck Telescopes. ApJ Letters, 634, 169
  14. Cotton W.D., Mennesson B., Diamond P.J. et al. 2004. VLBA Observations of SiO Masers towards Mira variable stars. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 414, 275
  15. Mennesson B., Perrin G., Coude du Foresto V. et al. 2002. Evidence for very extended gaseous layers around O-rich Miras and M giants. Astrophysical Journal, 579, 446
  16. Mennesson B., et al. 2002, Use of single-mode waveguides to correct the optical defects of a nulling interferometer, JOSA A 19, 596