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Raissa Estrela

Photo of Raissa Estrela


4800 Oak Grove Drive

Pasadena, CA 91109

Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Exoplanet Discovery and Science

JPL Postdoc


Raissa is a JPL Postdoctoral Fellow at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working on characterizing exoplanet atmospheres. She uses space observations to detect and characterize the composition of exoplanets' atmospheres. She also investigates the effects of external (stellar radiation and activity) and internal (planetary surface) sources that impact the atmospheric evolution of exoplanets. She is a member of the NESSI team, a new multi-object spectrograph at Palomar Observatory built specifically to examine exoplanets' atmospheres.

Raissa started her scientific career studying Ecology and Physics in Natal, Brazil, close to the Equator and surrounded by beautiful beaches and dunes. She studied stellar properties (rotation, activity, and pulsation) using the space satellites CoRoT and Kepler. Then, she moved to Sao Paulo to study stellar activity during her master's. She used 4-year data observed by the Kepler telescope to characterize short magnetic cycles in active stars. Similarly to the Sun, in which sunspots are used to determine the 11 years solar cycle, she used the number of spots found in planetary transits to determine the magnetic cycle duration in other solar-type stars. In 2017, she started a Ph.D. in the same institution. During the first year, she focused on the impact of stellar activity (i.e., flares) on the habitability of exoplanets orbiting close to their host star. For the following Ph.D. years, she had the opportunity to continue it abroad at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she developed the calibration of the instrument STIS of the Hubble Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of the exoplanets in the visible wavelengths (i.e., aerosols in the upper atmosphere). In parallel, she also investigated the impact of XUV radiation in leading to the atmospheric escape in super-Earths and sub-Neptunes planets. She received her Ph.D. in Geospatial Sciences and Applications from the Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (Sao Paulo, Brazil) in 2020.


  • B.A., Physics, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil (2014)
  • M.A., Geospatial Sciences and Applications, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2017)
  • Ph.D., Geospatial Sciences and Applications, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2020)

Professional Experience

  • 2018: ESO Scientific Visitor Program

Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

  • 2019-2020: JPL Graduate Fellow
  • 2020-2022: NASA Postdoctoral Fellow
  • 2022-Present: JPL Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests

  • Observational characterization of exoplanets:
    - formation and evolution of the atmospheres of small planets
    - atmospheric detection and characterization using transit spectroscopy
  • Atmosphere-Interior exchange
  • Impacts of stellar activity on exoplanets atmospheres and habitability
  • Search for biosignatures
  • Influence of biotic and abiotic processes on the evolution of small planets

Selected Awards

  • NASA Honor Awards - Group Achievement Award on behalf of the ExoExplorers Team (2023)
  • Ph.D. at large prize by the International Astronomical Union (2020)
  • JPL Postdoctoral Fellowship (2022)
  • NASA Postdoctoral Program (2020)
  • JPL Graduate Fellowship (2019-2020)
  • Sao Paulo Research Foundation Fellowship (2017-2019)

Selected Publications

  1. Impact of M-dwarf stellar wind and photoevaporation on the atmospheric evolution of small planets
    Modi, A., Estrela, R., Valio, A., V. 525, Issue 4 (2023)
  2. A Trend in Temperature for Clouds and Hazes in Exoplanets Atmospheres.
    Estrela, R., Swain, M. R., Roudier, G., ApJL, 941, L5 (2022)
  3. Detection of aerosols at microbar pressures in exoplanet atmosphere.
    Estrela, R., Swain, M. R., Roudier, G., West, R., Valio, A., AJ, 162, 91 (2021)
  4. The evolutionary track of the H/He envelope in the observed population of sub- Neptunes and super-Earths planets.
    Estrela, R., Swain, M., Gupta, A., Sotin, C., Valio, A., ApJ, 898, 104 (2020)
  5. Surface and oceanic habitability in the Trappist-1 Planets under the impacts of flares.
    Estrela, R., Palit, S. and Valio, A., Astrobiology, issue 12, p.1465-147 (2020)
  6. Two Terrestrials Families with Different Origins
    Swain, M., Estrela, R., Sotin, C., et al., ApJ, 881, 117 (2019)
  7. Superflare UV flashes impact on Kepler-96 system: a glimpse of habitability when the ozone layer first formed on Earth
    Estrela, R., and Valio, A., Astrobiology, 18, 1414-1424 (2018)
  8. Using planetary transits to estimate magnetic cycles of Kepler stars
    Estrela, R. and Valio, A.; Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, V. 328, pp 152-158 (2017).
  9. Stellar magnetic cyles in Kepler-17 and Kepler-63
    Estrela, R. and Valio, A.; ApJ v.831 57E (2016)