Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Jennifer Claire Stern


Jennifer Claire Stern's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.6062
Org Code: 699
Mail Code 699
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Dr. Jennifer Stern is a Space Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, specializing in the study of the chemistry of the atmosphere and surface of Mars, and instrument development for geochemical measurements on planetary surfaces. In particular, she is interested in whether Mars ever had a nitrogen cycle, and how we look to terrestrial Mars-like environments to understand both biological and abiotic nutrient cycling. She is a member of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover Curiosity and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite, one of the 10 instruments on Curiosity, which uses mass and laser spectrometry to measure the chemical composition of the atmosphere and surface of Mars. She is also the Payload Development Lead for the Gas Chromatography subsystem on the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer, which will fly on the Dragonfly mission to Titan.

Back on Earth, Dr. Stern runs the Stable Isotope Facility in the Planetary Environments Laboratory (PEL) where she studies the carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen isotope systematics of terrestrial and laboratory planetary analogs of Mars and Titan. She is also interested in the Arctic as an analog for Mars and Ocean Worlds, and has spent 4 field seasons in the Arctic.

Dr. Stern has a BA in Geology-Biology from Brown University and a PhD in Geochemistry from Florida State University, where she developed analytical techniques for isotope and trace metal analysis of environmental waters in order to trace the impacts of agriculture in the Florida Everglades and methane emissions from landfills. She decided to apply her interest in geochemistry to astrobiology as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA Ames Research Center and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where she studied how organic molecules can be formed by non-biological processes occurring in meteorites and at hydrothermal vents. Today, in parallel with her participation on the Curiosity team conducting experiments on Mars, she participates in field expeditions to places where geochemical processes similar to those that may have occurred Mars are recorded in Earth’s rock record, such as Greenland, Svalbard, and southern Mexico.


Research Space Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

December 2008 - Present

ORAU-NASA Postdoctoral Fellow

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

April 2007 - November 2008

NRC/ORAU-NASA Postdoctoral Fellow

NASA Ames Research Center - Moffett Field, CA

October 2005 - March 2007


Ph.D. (Geology - 2005) Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
B.A. (Geology-Biology - 1998) Brown University, Providence, RI
Class W-149 (Spring 1997) SEA Semester, Woods Hole, MA

Professional Service

  • Co-Lead, Mars Sample Return Science Theme Group, GSFC (2023-current)
  • Rock Sample Team Member, Mars Sample Return Campaign Science Group (2022-current)
  • Lead, Ocean Worlds Analog Assessment Workshop Development (2022-2023)
  • Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) Goals Committee Representative, Goal 1: Life and Habitability on Mars (2018-current)
  • Fundamental Laboratory Research (FLaRe) Internal Funding Science Model (ISFM) Co-Lead (2018 – current)
  • Program Officer, NASA Headquarters, Solar System Workings (6/2015-5/2018)


2023 Picarro Hero Award, People's Choice

2017 NASA Group Achievement Award MSL rover surface operations, first extended mission

2016 Robert H. Goddard Award for Exceptional Individual Achievement in Science for Discovery

of Nitrate on Mars

2015 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering for Nitrogen on Mars

2015 NASA Group Achievement Award MSL prime mission science and operations team

2013 NASA Group Achievement Award outstanding achievement in science and operation of

the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mission

2011 NASA Group Achievement Award Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Team

Special Experience

• Dragonfly Mission Team Member (2019-current)

• Payload Development Lead, Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer (2019-current)

• Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mission Team Member (2011-current)

• Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Team Member (2010-current)