Titans Lakes
Mars Bonneville Crater

Principal Investigator

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

Dr. Hayes is an Associate 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

Dan Lalich
B.S. Astronomy with Physics minor, Case Western Reserve University (2012)
Ph.D., Geoscience, University of Texas at Austin (2017)

Dan’s research has focused primarily on recent climate variability on Mars, particularly the affect of changing orbital conditions on surface ice deposits, and plans to apply these methods to help answer questions about Titan’s surface evolution using Cassini data, as well as continuing to investigate recent Mars history.


Research Associate

photo of Valerio PoggialiCaricature of Valerio Poggiali Valerio Poggiali
Ph.D., Univ. of Rome La Sapienza (2016)

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. (more…)

Research Associate

photo of Samuel BirchSamuel Birch
B.A., UC Berkeley (2014)
Ph.D., Cornell University (2017)

Recent Publication

[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).

Sam’s research is focused on understanding the evolution of the surfaces of planetary bodies.


SPIF Manager

Zoe Learner PonterioZoe Learner PonterioZoe Learner Ponterio
B.S., Astrophysics & B.S., Mathematics, Univ. of Oklahoma (2002)
Ph.D. Student, Astronomy, Cornell University (2002-2006)
Zoe is the Data Manager of the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility (SPIF). Her duties include archiving hardcopy images from past planetary missions, planetary research support, coordinating K12 outreach and communicating science to the public.

Web Developer

photo of Camilo NascimentoCamilo Nascimento
B.F.A., UNC Charlotte (2000)
M.F.A., Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2009)
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.

Graduate Students

Megan BarringtonMegan Barrington
B.S., Astronomy, Colgate Univ. (2017)
Ph.D. Candidate, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell Univ. (2017 – Present)


Megan is currently focused on the calibration of the Mars2020 Rover’s Mastcam-Z cameras.

Christian TateChristian Tate
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Purdue Univ. (2012)
B.A., Medieval Studies, Purdue Univ. (2016)
M.A., Physics and Astronomy, Univ. of Louisville (2017)
M.A. Student, Astronomy, Cornell Univ. (2017 – Present)


Christian Tate works on Titan’s atmosphere modeling polar clouds appearing late in Cassini’s mission. He is also involved in the camera calibration of Mars2020’s Mastcam-Z.

photo of Paul Corliescaricature of Paul CorliesPaul Corlies
B.A., Univ. Pennsylvania (2013)
Ph.D. Student, Cornell Univ. (2013 – Present)

Paul currently works on observing and studying clouds and atmospheric dynamics of Titan. (more…)

photo of Abhinav Jindalphoto of Abhinav JindalAbhinav Jindal
B.Tech., Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (2016)
Ph.D. Candidate, Cornell University (2016-Present)
Abhinav’s research focus is analyzing the lithospheric structure of Venus. (more…)

photo of Nicholas Kutsopcaricature of Nicholas KutsopNicholas Kutsop
B.S., Northern Arizona University (2014)
Ph.D. Candidate, Cornell University (2014 – Present)

Nic’s 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. (more…)

Undergraduate Students

Lexi NeeseLexi Neese
B.S., Computer Science, Astronomy minor, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2019)
Lexi is developing a custom GUI to control cameras and capture images for testing and calibration of the Mastcam-Z cameras to be used on the Mars 2020 rover.

Cece ThiebergerCece Thieberger
B.S., Astronomy, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2021)

Cece is working on analysis of trajectories for the Europa Clipper mission.

Alexis EgglestonAlexis Eggleston
B.S., Environmental Engineering, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2021)

Alexis is a Student Research Assistant for the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility (SPIF). She works on outreach development and the archiving, inventory, and preservation of SPIF’s image and historical item collections.

Anjali RajeshAnjali Rajesh
B.S., Computer Science, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2021)

Anjali is a Student Research Assistant for the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility (SPIF). She works on development of software workshops, website maintenance (SPIF, COMPASSE, and Sagan Planet Walk), outreach development, and image archiving.

photo of Samantha MoruzziSamantha Moruzzi
B.S., Science of Earth Systems, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2020)

Samantha is studying backscatter in Cassini RADAR data to assess surface compositions in various terrains on Titan.

photo of Kelly WaldvogelKelly Waldvogel
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2020)

Kelly is developing algorithms and procedures for the testing and calibration of the Mastcam-Z cameras for the Mars 2020 rover.

photo of Dalia KirshenblatDalia Kirshenblat
B.A., Science Writing and Communications, Ithaca College (Anticipated 2020)

Dalia is working with SPIF (Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility) as a liaison with the Ithaca Sciencenter devising content for NASA’s Life on the Edge traveling exhibit. She also supports and participates in SPIF outreach activities.

Maheenuz ZamanMaheenuz Zaman
B.S., Astronomy, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2020)

Mahi is using Cassini VIMS data to identify transient fog features on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

Julia MillerJulia Miller
B.A., Science of Earth Systems and Astronomy, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2020)

Julia is currently using radar images from Cassini to map channels on Titan.

photo of Fiona Nichols-FlemingFiona Nichols-Fleming
B.S., Physics & Astronomy, Minor in Math, Univ. of Rochester (Anticipated 2019)

Fiona is working on matching observations from SINFONI VLT to a radiative transfer model of Titan’s atmospheric haze in order to investigate seasonal variations in haze structure.

photo of John Kellandcaricature of John KellandJohn Kelland
B.S., Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Minor in Astronomy, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2018)
M.Eng., Aerospace Engineering, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2019)

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 fourth year undergraduate studying Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

photo of Justin TanJustin Tan
Ithaca High School (Class of 2019)

Justin is searching for seasonally transient fog on Titan using Cassini’s VIMS data.

Previous Research Associates

Marco Mastrogiuseppe Marco Mastrogiuseppe Marco Mastrogiuseppe (Oct 2014 - Oct 2016)
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 the University of Rome La Sapienza.

Previous Staff

Rick Kline Rick Kline

Rick Kline
A.A.S., EET, Corning Community College (1980)

Current Status:

Previous Graduate Students

Jason Hofgartner Jason Hofgartner

Jason Hofgartner (Jan 2013 - Dec 2015)
Ph.D. Astronomy, Cornell University (2016)
Research Topic: Titan, Liquid Environments

Current Status:
NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Zhimeng Zhang Zhimeng Zhang

Zhimeng Zhang (ZZ) (Mar 2013 - Dec 2016)
Ph.D., Cornell Univ. (2016)
Research Topic: Microwave observations provide clues to the origin of Saturn's main rings

Current Status:
NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Postdoctoral Scholar, California Institute of Technology

Marica Raguso

Marica Raguso (Oct 2015 - Sept 2016)
Ph.D. Student, Univ. of Rome, Sapienza
Research Topic: Cassini SAR processor and processes to "super-risolve" SAR images

Current Status:
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Rome La Sapienza

Bryne Hadnott

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

Current Status:
Ph.D. Candidate, Johns Hopkins University

Previous Undergraduates

Cansu Culha

Cansu Culha (Sept 2011 - Sept 2013)
B.S. Geophysics, UC Berkeley (2015)
Research Topic:Europa

Current Status:
Ph.D. Candidate, Stanford

Christian Klein

Christian Klein (June 2013 - Sept 2013)
B.S. Physics, Regis University (2015)

Current Status:
Secondary Education

George D McDonald

George D. McDonald (Feb 2013 - Aug 2014)
B.A. Physics, Cornell Univ. (2014)
Research Topic: Titan Dunes
Research Topic: Martian Atmosphere

Current Status:
Georgia Institute of Technology (PhD Candidate)

Thomas Gautier

Thomas Gautier (May 2013 - May 2015)
B.A., Physics, Cornell Univ. (2015)

Current Status:
Technical Staff, Syracuse Research Institute International


Roger Michaelides (Oct 2012 - May 2015)
B.A., Physics and B.A, Science of Earth Systems, Cornell Univ. (2015)
Research Topic: Terrestrial Remote Sensing

Current Status:
Stanford University (PhD candidate)

Lea Bonnefoy

Lea Bonnefoy (Jan 2014 - Sept 2015)
B.A., Physics, Cornell University (2015)
Research Topic: Titan's dunes

Current Status:
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Paris

Joseph Mullen

Joseph Mullen (June 2015 - Sept 2016)
B.S., Physics, Astronomy, Mathematics, Drake University (2016)
Research Topic: Titan's dunes

Current Status:

Jerica Huang

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

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Cornell University

Vinisha Mittal

Vinisha Mittal (Jan 2016 - Jan 2017)
B.S., Computer Science, Cornell Univ. (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.

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Cornell University

Ryan de Freitas Bart

Ryan de Freitas Bart (Sept 2014 - May 2017)
B.S., Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell Univ. (2018)
Research Topic: Mapping surface of comets and asteroids

Current Status:
Staff at Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Ian Cullings

Ian Cullings (Sept 2016 - May 2017)
B.A., Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell Univ. (Anticipated 2020)
Research Topic: Mars Rover Missions

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Cornell University

Katherine Gershfeld Katherine Gershfeld

Katherine Gershfeld (Aug 2016 - May 2018)
SPIF Assistant
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Cornell University (Anticipated 2020) kg442@gmail.com

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Cornell University

James Haber James Haber

James Haber (Sept 2017 - May 2018)
B.A., Physics, Cornell University (2018) jth254@gmail.com

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Cornell University

Weigang Liang Weigang Liang

Weigang Liang (Sept 2017 - May 2018)
B.A., Physics, Cornell University (2018) wl463@gmail.com

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Cornell University

Weigang Liang Yihui Tang

Yihui "Harry" Tang (Sept 2017 - May 2018)
B.A., Physics, Cornell University (2018) yt342@gmail.com

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Cornell University

Andrew Nowak

Andrew Nowak (June 2018 - Aug 2018)
B.S., Physics, Winona State Univ. (Anticipated 2019) anowak14@winona.edu

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Winona State Univ.

Alexandra Dobbs

Alexandra Dobbs (June 2018 - Aug 2018)
B.S., Chemistry, Fort Lewis College (Anticipated 2019) aad246@cornell.edu

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Fort Lewis College

Previous High school Interns

Peter Dohn

Peter Dohn (07/2014 - 08/2014)
H.S.D., Corning Painted Post Area High School (2015)
Research Topic: SOCET Set DTMs

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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:
Undergraduate, University of Vermont

Rishi Verma

Rishi Verma (07/2014 - 08/2014)
H.S.D., Ithaca High School
Research Topic: SOCET Set DTMs

Current Status:

Previous Staff

Kylee Hereid

Kylee Hereid (06/2016 - 09 /2015)
B.A. Multimedia Journalism, English, Simpson College (2017)
IA., Simpson College
Research Topic: Summer employee, website designer

Current Status:
Undergraduate, Simpson College