Skip Navigation

Renyu Hu

Renyu Hu's Photo


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 169-237

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

Click here


Click here

Member of:

Exoplanet Discovery and Science


Dr. Renyu Hu is an expert in the physical and chemical processes, evolution, radiative transfer, and remote sensing of planetary and exoplanetary atmospheres. Dr. Hu received his Ph.D. in planetary science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013, and joined JPL as a research scientist in 2015. Dr. Hu developed, from the first principles, a general-purpose photochemical and thermochemical model for exploring the diversity of exoplanets, which has led to the first classification framework of mini-Neptunes, a search strategy for helium-atmosphere exoplanets, and the prediction of an O2-CO runaway state on M stars' rocky planets. He also pioneered the method to detect minerals on bare-rock exoplanet surfaces. Dr. Hu also uses stable isotopes to study the evolution of planetary atmospheres. His research has led to evidence for a moderately dense early atmosphere on Mars. Dr. Hu's research group has played a significant role in both the deep characterization of exoplanets and the debate on the ancient climate of Mars. Dr. Hu is the Principal Investigator of a NASA Exoplanets Research Program and a NASA Habitable Worlds Program and is leading efforts to characterize exoplanets using Spitzer, Hubble, and TESS. Dr. Hu is a member of the WFIRST science investigation team, and his atmosphere models are used to determine what we can learn about exoplanets from direct-imaging observations. Dr. Hu is the Starshade Scientist of the NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program. In that capacity, he provides scientific leadership to the Starshade Technology Development to TRL-5 (S5) activity and manages the Starshade Science and Industry Partnership program.


  • Ph.D. Planetary Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2013)
  • M.S. Astrophysics, Tsinghua University (2009)
  • Diplome d'Ingenieur, Ecole Centrale Paris (2009)
  • B.S. Mathematics and Physics, Tsinghua University (2007)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    • Research Scientist (2015-present)
    • Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2015)
  • California Institute of Technology
    • Assistant Scientist (2013)

Community Service

  • Reviewer for Science, Nature, Nature Geoscience, Nature Astronomy, PNAS, ApJ, ApJS, A&A, MNRAS, EPSL, GRL, JGR, Icarus, and Astrobiology
  • Panel Reviewer for NASA Planetary Atmospheres Program, NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, NASA Exoplanets Research Program, NASA Astrophysics Research and Analysis Program, NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship, NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship, and NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
  • Panel Member of Hubble Space Telescope Time Allocation Committee Cycles 23 and 28
  • Founder of JPL Exoplanet Lunch Seminar Series
  • Member of JPL Astrophysics Colloquium Committee
  • Atmospheric Science Lead of Starshade Rendezvous Probe Study
  • Member of NASA ExoPAG Study Analysis Group 15 on Science Questions for Direct Imaging Exoplanet Missions
  • Member of NASA ExoPAG Study Analysis Group 16 on Exoplanet Biosignatures

Research Interests

  • Atmospheres of planets and exoplanets from Earth-sized to Jupiter-sized
  • Remote sensing of planets using transit spectroscopy, phase curve mapping, and direct imaging
  • Evolution of planetary atmospheres and stable isotope geochemistry
  • Search for habitable planets and biosignatures
  • Gas and aqueous phase chemical kinetics

Selected Awards

  • NASA Group Achievement Award for the Astrophysics Large Mission Studies (2019)
  • JPL Voyager Award for Individual Achievement (2017)
  • NASA Hubble Fellowship (2013)
  • Barrett Prize, MIT (2012)
  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (2011)
  • Presidential Fellowship, MIT (2009)
  • Wu You-Xun Prize, Tsinghua University (2009)

Selected Publications

  • Mario Damiano and Renyu Hu (2020), ExoREL-R: A Bayesian Inverse Retrieval Framework for Exoplanetary Reflected Light Spectra, AJ, 159, 175
  • Renyu Hu, Luke Peterson, and Eric T. Wolf (2020), O2-Dominated Atmospheres for Potentially Habitable Environments on TRAPPSIT-1 Planets, ApJ, 888, 122
  • Clara Sousa-Silva, Sara Seager, Sukrit Ranjan, Janusz Petkowski, Zhuchang Zhan, Renyu Hu, and William Bains (2020), Phosphine as a Biosignature Gas in Exoplanet Atmospheres, Astrobiology, 20, 2
  • Renyu Hu (2019), Information in the Reflected Light Spectra of Widely Separated Giant Exoplanets, ApJ, 887, 166
  • Renyu Hu and Héctor Delgado Diaz (2019), Stability of Nitrogen in Planetary Atmospheres in Contact with Liquid Water, ApJ, 886, 126
  • Megan Mansfield, Edwin S. Kite, Renyu Hu, Daniel Koll, Matej Malik, Jacob Bean, and Eliza Kempton (2019), Identifying Atmospheres on Rocky Exoplanets through Infrared High Albedo, ApJ, 886, 141
  • Laura Kreidberg, Daniel Koll, Caroline Morley, Renyu Hu, Laura Schaefer, Drake Deming, Kevin B. Stevenson, Jason Dittmann, Andrew Vanderburg, Berardo, Xueying Guo, Keivan Stassun, Ian Crossfield, David Charbonneau, David W. Latham, Abraham Loeb, George Ricker, Sara Seager, and Roland Vanderspek (2019), Absence of a thick atmosphere on the terrestrial exoplanet LHS 3844b, Nature, 573, 87
  • Jonathan Jiang, Xuan Ji, Nicholas Cowan, Renyu Hu, and Zonghong Zhu (2019), Empirical Predictions for the Period Distribution of Planets to be Discovered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, AJ, 158, 96
  • Renyu Hu (2019), Predicted Diurnal Variation of the Deuterium to Hydrogen Ratio in Water at the Surface of Mars Caused by Mass Exchange with the Regolith, Earth Planet Sci Lett, 519, 192
  • Yui Kawashima, Renyu Hu, and Masahiro Ikoma (2019), Detectable molecular features above hydrocarbon haze via transmission spectroscopy with JWST: Case studies of GJ 1214b, GJ 436b, HD 97658b, and Kepler-51b, ApJ Letters, 876, L5
  • R. O. Parke Loyd, Kevin France, Allison Youngblood, Christian Schneider, Alexander Brown, Renyu Hu, Antígona Segura, Jeffrey Linsky, Seth Redfield, Feng Tian, Sarah Rugheimer, Yamila Miguel, and Cynthia S. Froning (2018), The Muscles Treasury Survey. V. FUV Flares On Active And Inactive M Dwarfs, ApJ, 867, 71
  • Tre’Shunda James and Renyu Hu (2018), Photochemical Oxygen in Non-1 Bar CO2 Atmospheres of Terrestrial Exoplanets, ApJ, 867, 17
  • Chester E. Harman, Ryan Felton, Renyu Hu, Shawn Domagal-Goldman, Antígona Segura, Feng Tian, and James Kasting (2018), Abiotic O2 Levels on Planets around F, G, K, and M Stars: Effects of Lightning-Produced Catalysts in Eliminating Oxygen False Positives, ApJ, 866, 56
  • Ji Wang, Dimitri Mawet, Renyu Hu, Garreth Ruane, Jacques-Robert Delorme, and Nikita Klimovich (2018), Baseline Requirements for Detecting Biosignatures with the HabEx and LUVOIR Mission Concepts, Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems, 4, 035001
  • Jonathan Jiang, Albert Zhai, Jay Herman, Chengxing Zhai, Renyu Hu, Hui Su, Vijay Natraj, Jiazheng Li, Feng Xu, and Yuk L. Yung (2018), Using Deep Space Climate Observatory Measurements to Study the Earth as An Exoplanet, AJ, 156, 26
  • Isabel Angelo and Renyu Hu (2017), A Case for an Atmosphere on Super-Earth 55 Cancri e, AJ, 154, 6
  • Ji Wang, Dimitri Mawet, Garreth Ruane, Renyu Hu, and Björn Benneke (2017), Observing Exoplanets with High Dispersion Coronagraphy. I. The scientific potential of current and next-generation large ground and space telescopes, AJ, 153, 183
  • Renyu Hu, Anthony Bloom, Peter Gao, Charles E. Miller, and Yuk L. Yung (2016), Hypotheses for near-surface exchange of methane on Mars, Astrobiology, 16, 539
  • Brice-Oliver Demory, Michael Gillon, Julien de Wit, Nikku Madhusudhan, Emeline Bolmont, Kevin Heng, Tiffany Kataria, Nikole Lewis, Renyu Hu, Jessican Krick, Vlada Stamenkovic, Björn Benneke, Stephen Kane, and Didier Queloz (2016), A map of the large day-night temperature gradient of a super-Earth exoplanet, Nature, 532, 207
  • Renyu Hu, David Kass, Bethany L. Ehlmann, and Yuk L. Yung (2015), Tracing the Fate of Carbon and the Atmospheric Evolution of Mars, Nature Communications, 6, 10003
  • Renyu Hu, Sara Seager, and Yuk L. Yung (2015),  Helium Atmospheres on Warm Neptune- and Sub-Neptune-Sized Exoplanets and Applications to GJ 436 b, ApJ, 807, 8
  • Renyu Hu, Brice-Olivier Demory, Sara Seager, Nikole Lewis, and Adam P. Showman (2015), A Semi-Analytical Model of Visible-Wavelength Phase Curves of Exoplanets and Applications to Kepler-7 b and Kepler-10 b, ApJ, 802, 51
  • Avi Shporer and Renyu Hu (2015), Studying Atmosphere-Dominated Kepler Phase Curves, AJ, 150, 4
  • Peter Gao, Renyu Hu, Tyler Robinson, Cheng Li, and Yuk L. Yung (2015), Stabilization of CO2 Atmospheres on Exoplanets around M Dwarf Stars, ApJ, 806, 249
  • Renyu Hu, and Sara Seager (2014), Photochemistry in Terrestrial Exoplanet Atmospheres III: Photochemistry and Thermochemistry in Thick Atmospheres on Super Earths, ApJ, 784, 63
  • Renyu Hu, Sara Seager, and William Bains (2013), Photochemistry in Terrestrial Exoplanet Atmospheres II: H2S and SO2 Photochemistry in Anoxic Atmospheres, ApJ, 769, 6
  • Renyu Hu, Sara Seager, and William Bains (2012), Photochemistry in Terrestrial Exoplanet Atmospheres I: Photochemistry Model and Benchmark Cases, ApJ 761, 166
  • Renyu Hu, Kerri Cahoy, and Maria T. Zuber (2012), Mars CO2 Condensation Above The North and South Poles Revealed by Radio Occultation, Climate Sounding, and Laser Ranging, JGR, 117, E07002
  • Renyu Hu, Bethany L. Ehlmann, and Sara Seager (2012), Theoretical Spectra of Terrestrial Exoplanet Surfaces, ApJ, 752, 7.
  • Renyu Hu (2010), Transport of the First Rocks of the Solar System by X-winds, ApJ, 725, 1421
  • Renyu Hu and Yu-Qing Lou (2009), Magnetic Massive Stars as Magnetar Progenitors, MNRAS, 396, 878
  • Renyu Hu, Yulia V. Bogdanova, Christopher J. Owen, Claire Foullon, Andrew N. Fazakerley, and Henri Rème (2008), Cluster Observations of the Mid-Altitude Cusp under Strong Northward Interplanetary Magnetic Field, JGR, 113, A07S05