Principal Investigator

Alex HayesAlexander Hayes
Research ID: www.researcherid.com/rid/P-2024-2014
B.A., M.Eng. Cornell (2003)
M.S, Ph.D., Caltech (2011)
hayes “at” astro.cornell.edu

Dr. Hayes is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University and Director of the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility (SPIF). His research interests generally focus on the quantitative analysis and modeling of planetary surfaces using remote sensing data in the visible, infrared, and radar wavelengths.

Research Associate

Valerio_Poggiali Valerio Poggiali
Ph.D., Univ. of Rome La Sapienza (2016)
valerio.poggiali “at” uniroma1.it

Valerio’s studies concern the analysis of the Cassini radar altimeter data in order to derive the most accurate estimations of Titan’s surface dielectric parameters by means of a stochastic inversion approach based on Monte-Carlo simulations. After having worked for estimating equatorial dunes’ height, now Valerio matured a great interest for Titan’s liquid bodies, specifically he is characterizing rivers and canyons in the polar regions and assisting Marco Mastrogiuseppe in the determination of radar bathymetry and composition of Titan’s seas.

Selected Publications / Abstracts:
Poggiali, V., M. Mastrogiuseppe, A. G. Hayes, R. Seu, S. P. D. Birch, R. Lorenz, C. Grima, and J. D. Hofgartner (2016), Liquid-filled canyons on Titan, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 7887–7894, doi:10.1002/2016GL069679.


klineRick Kline
A.A.S., EET, Corning Community College (1980)
rick.kline “at” cornell.edu

Rick was responsible for the day-to-day running of SPIF – The Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility, helping planetary scientists and the interested public access the images they needed. He developed presentation materials, organized outreach events and was the primary presenter for both local and remote visits.


Camilo Nascimento
B.F.A., UNC Charlotte (2000)
M.F.A., Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2009)
camilo “at” camilographics.com
Camilo is the web developer for the Hayes Research Group and the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility (SPIF). Duties include custom web design and content management solutions.

IMG_1479Samuel Birch
B.A., UC Berkeley (2014)
Ph.D. Candidate, Cornell University (2014 – Present)
sb2222 “at” cornell.edu

Sam’s research is focused on understanding the evolution of the surfaces of planetary bodies. If we can understand the morphologies, by describing and quantifying the topographic shapes of a planet’s surface, we can build process-based models that explain their evolution through time. Beginning with qualitative observations of a surface through geomorphological mapping, we then build numerical models that match those observations. This methodology can apply to just select regions on planets like Mars, to the hydrologically active poles of an icy moon like Titan, to sedimentary worlds like Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The surfaces of all these bodies are governed by the motions of individual particles, and so understanding the sediment transport pathways on these bodies helps us to understand the evolution of the landscape as a whole. When not exploring the solar system, Sam enjoys adventuring around the many outdoor environments of the Finger Lakes region.

Selected Publications / Abstracts:

[4] S.P.D. Birch, Y. Tang, A.G. Hayes, R.L. Kirk, D. Bodewits, H. Campins, Y. Fernandez, R. de Freitas Bart, N.W. Kutsop, H. Sierks, J.M. Soderblom, S.W. Squyres, and J-B. Vincent. Geomorphology of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. MNRAS (2017).

[3] S.P.D. Birch, A.G. Hayes, W.E. Dietrich, A.D. Howard, C.S. Bristow, M.J. Malaska, J.M. Moore, M. Mastrogiuseppe, J.D. Hofgartner, D.A. Williams, O.L. White, J.M. Soderblom, J.W. Barnes, E.P. Turtle, J.I. Lunine, C.A. Wood, C.D. Neish, R.L. Kirk, E.R. Stofan, R.D. Lorenz, and R.M.C. Lopes. Geomorphologic Mapping of Titan’s polar terrains: Constraining Surface Processes and Landscape EvolutionIcarus 282, 214-236 (2017).

[2] S.P.D. Birch, A.G. Hayes, A.D. Howard J.M. Moore, and J. Radebaugh. Alluvial Fan Morphology, Distribution and Formation on Titan. Icarus 270, 238-247 (2016).

[1] S.P.D. Birch, M. Manga, B. Delbridge, and M. Chamberlain, Penetration of spherical projectiles into wet granular material, Phys. Rev. E 90, 032208 (2014).

Paul Corlies
B.A., Univ. Pennsylvania (2013)
Ph.D. Student, Cornell Univ. (2013 – Present)
pmc232 “at” cornell.edu

Paul currently works on observing and studying clouds and atmospheric dynamics of Titan. Currently, he uses the SINFONI instrument on the VLT to make spectroscopic observations to monitor the presence and characteristics of clouds. He is additionally interested in various types of instrumentations, having worked on a variety of instruments to date including ACTPol, BLAST, NIRSPEC, a proposed near-IR spectrometer for the Mars 2020 Rover, and is currently designing an FTS for measurements in submillimeter wavelengths.

Selected Publications / Abstracts:
M. ‘Ad’amkovics, J.L. Mitchell, A.G. Hayes, P.M. Rojo, P. Corlies, J.W. Barnes, V. D. Ivanov, R.H. Brown, K.H. Baines, B.J. Buratti, R.N. Clark, P.D. Nicholson, C. Sotin. Meridional variation in tropospheric methane on Titan observed with AO spectroscopy at Keck and VLT. Icarus, 2015.

G.D. McDonald, P. Corlies, J.J. Wray, S.M. Hörst, J.D. Hofgartner, L.R. Liuzzo, J. Bu?o, A.G. Hayes. Altitude-Dependence of Titan’s Methane Transmission Windows: Informing Future Missions. LPSC 2015, The Woodland, TX.

Nicholas Kutsop
B.S., Northern Arizona University (2014)
Ph.D. Candidate, Cornell University (2014 – Present)
nwk25 “at” cornell.edu

Nics current research uses the RADAR aboard the Cassini satellite to study Titan altimetry, the measurement of altitude above the surface, and bathymetry, the measurement of depth of the lakes. In addition to Titan he is interested in Europa, Enceladus, Ganymede, Triton, and Mars. Specifically he wants to learn about these bodies’ geomorphology, crater morphology, topography, and surface and interior processes. Nic also has an interest in developing, designing, and building instrumentation to go to or study these places. Outside of his research, Nic has a passion for video games, space operas, anime and manga.

Selected Publications / Abstracts:
N.W. Kutsop, K.J. Mighell, L. Allen & M. Trueblood, Analysis of the Photometric Accuracy of the PhAst IDL Procedure, Northern Arizona University, 2015.

Ian_Cullings_HeadshotIan Cullings

B.A., Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2020)
idc25 “at” cornell.edu

Ian’s work involves using Socet Set and other remote sensing tools for terrain modeling and analysis to assist current and future Mars Rover Missions.

ryanbartRyan de Freitas Bart
B.S., Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2018)
rd422 “at” cornell.edu

Ryan’s work focuses on mapping surface features of small body objects such as comets and asteroids and using these features to characterize different areas and terrains.

kgphotoKatherine Gershfeld
B.S., Computer Science, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2020)
kg442 “at” cornell.edu

Katherine’s work includes assisting the SPIF Data Manager with data entry and daily operation of the facility.

James Haber
B.A., Physics, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2018)
jth254 “at” cornell.edu

James is working on generating coverage maps using various possible trajectories for the upcoming Europa Clipper mission. He is a third-year undergraduate student studying physics, mechanical engineering, and astronomy.

johnJohn Kelland
B.S., Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Minor in Astronomy, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2018)
jak374 “at” cornell.edu

John is currently using VIMS data to catalog the locations of clouds on Titan as well as analyze their dynamic and morphological characteristics. He is a third year undergraduate studying Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

wlWeigang Liang
B.S., Physics and Astronomy, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2018)
wl463 “at” cornell.edu

Weigang’s work involves revising a mars photometry pipeline in Matlab (for processing image files from Curiosity and the MER rovers), and eventually combining it with VICAR software from NASA JPL.

Professional_portraitYuhui Tang (Harry)
B.A., Physics, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2018)
yt342 “at” cornell.edu

Harry is currently working on determining surface characteristics and processes of comets and other small body objects. He is a second year undergraduate studying Physics and Astronomy.

Past Research Associates

mastrogiuseppemarc Marco Mastrogiuseppe
B.A., Univ. of Rome La Sapienza (2005)
M.S., Univ. of Rome La Sapienza (2008)
Ph.D., Univ. or Rome La Sapienza (2012)

Current Status:
Senior researcher at La Sapienza, Dr. Mastrogiuseppe's research interests revolve around the use of radar altimetry to study the surface and subsurface of Mars and Titan.

Past Graduates


Bryné Hadnott
B.A., Washington University in St. Louis (2013)

Current Status:
Ph.D. Candidate, Cornell University (2014 - Present)


Jason Hofgartner
Ph.D. Astronomy, Cornell University (2016)
Research Topic: Titan, Liquid Environments

Current Status:
NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Marica Marica Raguso
Ph.D. Student, Univ. of Rome, Sapienza
Research Topic: Cassini SAR processor and processes to "super-risolve" SAR images

Zhimeng Zhang

Zhimeng Zhang (ZZ)
B.A., Peking Univ. (2012)

Current Status:
Ph.D. Candidate, Cornell University (2012 - Present)
NPP fellow at JPL

Past Undergraduates

Lea Bonnefoy

Lea Bonnefoy
B.A., Physics, Cornell University (2015)
Research Topic: Titan's dunes

Current Status:
Ph.D. program in Paris, France


Cansu Culha
B.S. Geophysics, UC Berkeley (2015)
Research Topic:Europa

Current Status:
Graduate Student at Stanford, working in the industry at SRI

Thomas Gautier

Thomas Gautier
B.A., Physics, Cornell Univ. (2015)

Current Status:
Employed in related Industry

Jerica Huang Jerica Huang
B.S. Computer Science, Cornell Univ. (2018)
Research Topic: Webmaster, Sagan Planet Walk

Christian Klein Christian Klein
B.S. Physics, Regis University (2015)

George D McDonald

George D. McDonald
B.A. Physics, Cornell Univ. (2014)
Research Topic: Titan Dunes

Current Status:
Research Topic: Martian Atmosphere
Georgia Institute of Technology (PhD Candidate)


Roger Michaelides
B.A., Physics and B.A, Science of Earth Systems, Cornell Univ. (2015)

Current Status:
Research Topic: Terrestrial Remote Sensing
Stanford University (PhD candidate)

Vinisha Mittal
B.S., Computer Science, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2018)
Research Topic: webmaster for the Hayes Research Group and SPIF, working in conjunction with the Ithaca Sciencecenter on the website for the Carl Sagan Planet Walk.

325839_281491058564534_172774247_o Joseph Mullen
B.S., Physics, Astronomy, Mathematics, Drake University (2016)
Research Topic: Titan's dunes

Past High school Interns

Peter Dohn

Peter Dohn
H.S.D., Corning Painted Post Area High School (2015)
Research Topic: SOCET Set DTMs

Current Status:
Working at RPI

Leslie VandeMark

Leslie VanDeMark
H.S.D., Ithaca High School (2015)
Research Topic: Mapping channels on Titan's south pole and analyzing their drainage patterns.

Current Status:
University of Vermont

rishi Rishi Verma
H.S.D., Ithaca High School
Research Topic: SOCET Set DTMs

Past Staff

IMG_0428_edited-2 Kylee Hereid
B.A. Multimedia Journalism, English, Simpson College (2017)
IA., Simpson College
Research Topic: Summer employee, website designer