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Dr. Stephen Wood

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Senior Scientist

Currently resides in Seattle, WA
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Areas of Expertise
Targets: Asteroids, Callisto, Ceres, Earth, Icy satellites, Mars, Mercury, Moon
Disciplines/Techniques: Astrobiology, Atmospheres, Climate, Geomorphology, Laboratory Spectroscopy, Numerical modeling, Radiometry, Remote sensing, Thermal Emission Spectroscopy, Thermal modeling
Missions: Mars Polar Lander, Phoenix Mars Lander
Mission Roles: Calibration/Test planning, Data archive, Flight Software, Instrument Co-Investigator, Instrument operations, Mission science team, Requirements generation and flow down, Science operations
Instruments: Cameras, FTIR, Imaging spectrometers

Research Interests

Dr. Stephen Wood's research interests include polar ice, frost, and/or ground ice on Mars, Mercury, Ceres, the Moon, and asteroids as well as surface properties and evolution on icy satellites, regolith thermophysics, ice clouds and crystal growth, climate dynamics, astrobiology, and instrumentation design for planetary spacecraft missions and laboratory use. 

In the broadest terms, his research concerns ice-bearing planetary objects and the interactive relationships between the regolith[1], volatiles[2], atmosphere[3], and climate[4]. These components form a strongly coupled system that evolves through time, driven by changes in external forcing (insolation, orbit, axial tilt, endogenic heat, etc.). Much of Dr. Wood's work focuses on understanding the microphysical properties and processes that govern the internal response and feedback mechanisms in these systems

[1]“Regolith”, aka “soil”, refers to the entire porous layer of particulate, fractured and displaced material comprising the outer crust or “megaregolith”, estimated to be 100–1000 m thick on large objects (D>100km).

[2]“Volatiles” are any compounds that change phase between a gaseous and condensed state (solid or liquid) within a given planet’s range of temperatures and pressures, e.g.H2O and COon Mars, SOon Io, Non Triton.

[3]“Atmosphere” is meant to include both collisional and collisionless (exospheres).

[4]“Climate” simply refers to the typical range and pattern of environmental conditions and volatile states, so it can also apply to airless bodies. 


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