Jamie Molaro, PhD
Planetary Scientist, Feminist, Artist, Nerd
I am Research Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and an Affiliate at the Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I am also a Participating Scientist on NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission to retrieve a sample from asteroid Bennu, and a member of the Project for Exploration Science Pathfinder Research for Enhancing Solar System Observations (Project ESPRESSO), a new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) node. My work focuses on fracture processes and breakdown in rocky and icy material on airless bodies. I study the role of thermally induced stresses in boulder disaggregation and regolith production, and the contribution this makes to landscape evolution on the Moon, asteroids, dwarf planets, and comets. I work to understand how this cyclic processing changes the bulk properties of materials, causes fracture development, and the differences between rock and ice in the solar system. I also study ice sintering and the evolution of icy regolith on ocean worlds like Europa and Enceladus. Understanding their surface porosity, strength, and thermal and frictional properties has critical implications for future exploration efforts on these bodies. I study these processes at a variety of scales, from micro- to macroscopic, working to build an in-depth understanding the role thermal forcing plays in surface evolution. I employ a combination of numerical modeling and laboratory experiments in this research, along with the occasional terrestrial field study.
In my free time, I run science-art shows, make stuff out of other stuff, and play lots of board and video games with my husband. Unfortunately, my dog isn't great at board games because she doesn't have opposable thumbs, but she always wins at squirrel-chasing.