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Ashwin R. Vasavada

Photo of Ashwin Vasavada


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 264-640

Pasadena, CA 91109





Member of:

Planetary Geosciences

MSL Project Scientist


  • B. S. in Geophysics and Space Physics, University of California, Los Angeles (1992)
  • Ph.D. in Planetary Science, California Institute of Technology (1998)

Professional Experience

  • Project Scientist, Mars Science Laboratory (2015-Present)
  • Deputy Project Scientist, Mars Science Laboratory (2004 - 2014)
  • Co-Investigator, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Diviner Radiometer (2004 - Present)
  • Committee on Public Affairs, American Geophysical Union (2006 - 2008)
  • University of California, Los Angeles - W. W. Rubey Faculty Fellow (2002 - 2004)
  • U.S. Congress - AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow (2001 - 2002)

Research Interests

  • Geologic studies of Mars with regard to surface properties, volatiles, and climate history
  • Atmospheric dynamics, vertical structure, lightning, and aurora on Jupiter and Saturn
  • Stability and distribution of polar volatiles on Mercury and the Moon

Selected Awards

  • Honorary Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society (2022)
  • JPL People Leadership Award (2017)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, MSL Surface Sampling System Development Team (2020)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, Self-Reliant Rovers Technology Development Team (2019)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, MSL Non-Percussive Drilling Development Team (2017)
  • NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal (2013)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, Diviner Lunar Radiometer Science Mission Team (2013)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, MSL ChemCam Instrument Development & Science Team (2013)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, MSL Entry, Descent and Landing Team (2013)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, MSL Project Operations Team (2013)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, MSL SAM Instrument Development and Science Team (2013)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, MSL Science Office Development and Operations Team (2013)

Selected Publications

  1. Vasavada A. R., Mission overview and scientific contributions from the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover after eight years of surface operations, Space Science Reviews, 218, 14, 2022.
  2. Webster, C. R., et al., Day-night differences in Mars methane suggest nighttime containment at Gale crater, Astronomy & Astrophysics, 650, A166, 2021.
  3. Rampe, E. B., et al., Mineralogy and geochemistry of sedimentary rocks and eolian sediments in Gale crater, Mars: A review after six Earth years of exploration with Curiosity, Geochemistry, 80, 125605, 2020.
  4. Lewis, K. W., et al., A surface gravity traverse on Mars indicates low bedrock density at Gale crater, Science, 363, 535-537, 2019.
  5. Guzewich, S. D., et al., Mars Science Laboratory observations of the 2018/Mars Year 34 global dust storm, Geophys. Res. Lett., 46, 71-79, 2019.
  6. Webster, C. R., et al., Background levels of methane in Mars' atmosphere show strong seasonal variations, Science, 360, 1093-1096, 2018.
  7. Vasavada, A. R., et al., Thermophysical properties along Curiosity’s traverse in Gale crater, Mars, derived from the REMS ground temperature sensor, Icarus, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2016.11.035, 2017.
  8. Hayne, P. O., et al., Global regolith thermophysical properties of the Moon from the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, J. Geophys. Res., 122, 2371-2400, 2017.
  9. Grotzinger, J. P., et al., Deposition, exhumation, and paleoclimate of an ancient lake deposit, Gale Crater, Mars, Science, doi:10.1126/science.aac7575, 2015.
  10. Vasavada, A. R., et al., Overview of the Mars Science Laboratory mission: Bradbury Landing to Yellowknife Bay and beyond, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1002/2014JE004622, 2014.
  11. Bandfield, J. L., et al., Lunar cold spots: Granular flow features and extensive insulating materials surrounding young craters, Icarus, 231, 221-231, 2014.
  12. Grotzinger, J.P., et al., A habitable fluvio-lacustrine environment at Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars, Science, doi:10.1126/science.1242777, 2013.
  13. Li, L., Strong Temporal Variation Over One Saturnian Year: From Voyager to Cassini, Nature Scientific Reports, 3, 2410, 2013.
  14. Choi, D. S., A. P. Showman, A. R. Vasavada, A. A. Simon-Miller, Meteorology of Jupiter's equatorial hot spots and plumes from Cassini, Icarus, 223, 832-843, 2013.
  15. Golombek, M., et al., Selection of the Mars Science Laboratory landing site, Space Sci. Rev., 170, 641-737, 2012.
  16. Grotzinger, J. P., et al., Mars Science Laboratory mission and science investigation, Space Sci. Rev., 170, 5-56, 2012.
  17. Vasavada, A. R., et al., Assessment of environments for Mars Science Laboratory entry, descent, and surface operations, Space Sci. Rev., 170, 793-835, 2012.
  18. Vasavada, A. R., J. L. Bandfield, B. T. Greenhagen, P. O. Hayne, M. A. Siegler, J.-P. Williams, and D. A. Paige, Lunar equatorial surface temperatures and regolith properties from the Diviner lunar radiometer experiment, J. Geophys. Res., 117, E00H18, 2012.
  19. Bandfield, J. L., R. R. Ghent, A. R. Vasavada, D. A. Paige, S. J. Lawrence, and M. S. Robinson, Lunar surface rock abundance and regolith fines temperatures derived from LRO Diviner radiometer data, J. Geophys. Res., 116, E00H02, 2011.
  20. Li, L., et al., The global energy balance of Titan, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L23201, 2011.
  21. Li, L., et al., Equatorial winds on Saturn and the stratospheric oscillation, Nature Geosci., 4, 750-752, 2011.
  22. Grant, J. A., M. P. Golombek, J. P. Grotzinger, S. A. Wilson, M. M. Watkins, A. R. Vasavada, J. L. Griffes, and T. J. Parker, The science process for selecting the landing site for the 2011 Mars Science Laboratory, Planet. Space Sci., 59, 1114-1127, 2011.
  23. Li, L., et al., Saturn's emitted power, J. Geophys. Res., 115, E11002, 2010.
  24. Sussman, M. G., N. J. Chanover, A. A. Simon-Miller, A. R. Vasavada, and R. F. Beebe, Analysis of Juptier's Oval BA: A streamlined approach, Icarus, 210, 202-210, 2010.
  25. Paige, D. A., et al., Diviner Lunar Radiometer observations of cold traps in the Moon's south polar region, Science, 330, 479-482, 2010.
  26. Choi, D. S., A. P. Showman, and A. R. Vasavada, The evolving flow of Jupiter's White Ovals and adjacent cyclones, Icarus, 207, 359-372, 2010.
  27. Paige, D. A., et al., The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, Space Sci. Rev., doi:10.1007/s11214-009-9529-2, 2010.
  28. Dyudina, U. A., et al., Saturn's south polar vortex compared to other large vortices in the solar system, Icarus, 202, 240, 2009.
  29. Szwast, M. A., M. I. Richardson, and A. R. Vasavada, Surface dust redistribution on Mars as observed by the Mars Global Surveyor and Viking orbiters, J. Geophys. Res., 111, doi:10.1029/2005JE002485, 2006.
  30. Hecht, M. H., and A. R. Vasavada, Transient liquid water near an artificial heat source on Mars, Mars, 2, 83-96, doi:10.1555/mars.2006.0006, 2006.
  31. Vasavada, A. R., S. M. Hörst, M. R. Kennedy, A. P. Ingersoll, C. C. Porco, A. D. Del Genio, and R. A. West, Cassini imaging of Saturn: Southern hemisphere winds and vortices, J. Geophys. Res., 111, doi:10.1029/2005JE002563, 2006.
  32. Vasavada, A. R., and A. P. Showman, Jovian atmospheric dynamics: An update after Galileo and Cassini, Rep. Prog. Physics, 68, 1935-1996, 2005.
  33. Porco, C. C. et al., Cassini imaging science: Initial results on Saturn's atmosphere, Science, 307, 1243-1247, 2005.
  34. Dyudina, U. A., A. D. del Genio, A. P. Ingersoll, C. C. Porco, R. A. West, A. R. Vasavada, and J. M. Barbara, Lightning observed in the H line by the Cassini imaging science subsystem, Icarus, 172, 24-46, 2004.
  35. Ingersoll, A. P. et al., Dynamics of Jupiter's Atmosphere, in Jupiter: The Planet, Satellites & Rings, eds. F. Bagenal, T. E. Dowling, and W. B. McKinnon, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004.
  36. Porco, C. C. et al., Cassini imaging of Jupiter's atmosphere, satellites and rings, Science, 299, 1541-1547, 2003.
  37. Vasavada, A. R., J.-P. Williams, D. A. Paige, K. E. Herkenhoff, N. T. Bridges, R. Greeley, B. C. Murray, D. S. Bass, and K. S. McBride, Surface properties of Mars' polar layered deposits and polar landing sites, J. Geophys. Res., 105, 6961-6969, 2000.
  38. Ingersoll, A. P., P. J. Gierasch, D. Banfield, A. R. Vasavada, and the Galileo Imaging Team, Moist convection as an energy source for the large-scale motions in Jupiter's atmosphere, Nature, 403, 630-632, 2000.
  39. Little, B., C. D. Anger, A. P. Ingersoll, A. R. Vasavada, D. Senske, H. H. Breneman, and W. J. Borucki, Galileo images of lighting on Jupiter, Icarus, 142, 306-323, 1999.
  40. Vasavada, A. R., A. H. Bouchez, A. P. Ingersoll, B. Little, C. D. Anger, and the Galileo SSI Team, Jupiter's visible aurora and Io footprint, J. Geophys Res., 104, 27,133-27,142, 1999.
  41. Vasavada, A. R., D. A. Paige, and S. E. Wood, Near-surface temperatures on Mercury and the Moon and the stability of polar ice deposits, Icarus, 141, 179-193, 1999.
  42. Vasavada, A. R., A. P. Ingersoll, D. Banfield, M. Bell, P. J. Gierasch, M. J. S. Belton, G. S. Orton, K. P. Klaasen, E. DeJong, H. H. Brenemann, T. J. Jones, J. M. Kaufman, K. P. Magee, and D. A. Senske, Galileo imaging of Jupiter's atmosphere: the Great Red Spot, equatorial region, and White Ovals, Icarus, 135, 265-275, 1998.
  43. Vasavada, A. R., T. J. Milavec, and D. A. Paige, Microcraters on Mars: Evidence for past climate variations, J. Geophys. Res., 98, 3469-3476, 1993.
  44. Paige, D. A., S. E. Wood, and A. R. Vasavada, The thermal stability of water ice at the poles of Mercury, Science, 258, 643-646, 1992.