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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


Raissa is a NASA Post-doctoral Fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory working with the characterization of exoplanets atmospheres using space and ground-based observations. She also does research on the effects of stellar activity in the atmospheric evolution of exoplanets. She is a member of the NESSI team, a new multi-object spectrograph at Palomar Observatory build specifically to examine the atmospheres of exoplanets.

Raissa started her scientific career studying Ecology and Physics in Natal, Brazil, close to the Equator and surrounded by beautiful beaches and sand dunes. There, 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. She used 4-years 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 cycle duration in other solar-type stars. In 2017, she started a PhD in the same institution and during the first year she focused on the impact of stellar activity (i.e flares) on the habitability of exoplanets. For the following PhD years she had the opportunity to continue it abroad at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she performed observational atmospheric characterization of exoplanets with a focus on the role of aerosols and investigated the evolution of the atmospheric envelope of super-Earths and sub-Neptunes. She received her PhD in Sciences and Geospace 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., Science and Geospace Applications, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2017)
  • Ph.D., Science and Geospace Applications, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2020)

Professional Experience

2018: ESO Scientific Visitor Programme

Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

2019-2020: JPL Graduate Fellow

2020: NASA Post-doctoral Fellow

Research Interests

Observational characterization of exoplanets:

- formation and evolution of super-Earths atmospheres

- atmospheric detection and characterization using transit spectroscopy

  • Impacts of stellar activity on exoplanets atmospheres and habitability
  • Search for biosignatures

Selected Awards

NASA Postdoctoral Program (2020)

JPL Graduate Fellowship (2019-2020)

Sao Paulo Research Foundation Fellowship (2017-2019)

Selected Publications

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; accepted by ApJ (2020)

Surface and oceanic habitability in the Trappist-1 Planets under the impacts of

Estrela, R., Palit, S. and Valio, A.; accepted by Astrobiology (2020)

Two Terrestrials Families with Different Origins

Swain, M., Estrela, R., Sotin, C., et al.; ApJ, 881, 117 (2019)

Estrela, R., and Valio, A. Superflare UV flashes impact on Kepler-96 system: a glimpse of habitability when the ozone layer first formed on Earth; Astrobiology, 18, 1414-1424 (2018)

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).

Activity and rotation of Kepler-17

Valio, A., Estrela, R., Dirceu, Y., Bravo, J. P., and Medeiros, J. R.; ApJ v.835, 294V (2017)

Stellar magnetic cyles in Kepler-17 and Kepler-63

Estrela, R. and Valio, A.; ApJ v.831 57E (2016)

Wavelets: a powerful tool for studying rotation, activity, and pulsation in Kepler and CoRoT stellar light curves

Bravo, J. P., Roque, S., Estrela, R., Leao, I. C., Medeiros, J. R.; A&A V.568 A34 (2014)