Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Kendra Farnsworth



Org Code: 699

Mail Code: 699
Greenbelt, MD 20771


Brief Bio

Dr. Kendra Farnsworth is a postdoctoral laboratory research scientist working in the Planetary Environments Laboratory (code 699) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Her current research involves investigating the prebiotic chemistry in Titan's impact craters in the laboratory. By systematically testing various impact crater environments, she aims to predict which product molecules may be found when the Dragonfly mission arrives at Titan. Likewise, if Dragonfly identifies a biologically relevant molecule on Titan, this study will help understand the environment in which it was created. Impact craters are of interest because they are one of the few locations on Titan's surface where the mixture of transient liquid water and surface organics occurs, and Titan's Selk crater is the primary target location for Dragonfly. This research is additionally of interest to Titan's internal liquid ocean and other icy moon environments where liquid water and organics mix (e.g., cryovolcanic flows).

Dr. Farnsworth attended the University of Arkansas for her doctorate, where she maintained and operated the Titan Surface Simulation Chamber - a cryogenic environmental chamber that maintained Titan-relevant temperatures (83-110 K) and pressure (1.5-bar N2). Her doctoral work focused primarily on liquid-atmosphere interactions on Titan. More specifically, she studied the dissolution and diffusion kinetics of nitrogen gas in liquid hydrocarbons, nitrogen exsolution in the form of bubbles, the effects of dissolved nitrogen gas on methane-ethane freezing points, and the delayed coalescence of floating liquid droplets on the surface of liquid hydrocarbons. Additional research interests include, FTIR spectroscopy of liquid hydrocarbons, Cassini VIMS observations, and spatial and temporal variations of CO2 sublimation pits in the Martian South Polar Residual Cap.

As an undergraduate she worked as a laboratory technician at the Texas A&M Stable Isotope Geosciences Facility (SIGF), where she had the opportunity to conduct research in Earth paleoclimatology and isotopic geochemistry. Here, she aided in reconstructing historic precipitation and temperature in central Texas by analyzing the oxygen and carbon isotopic variability in a speleothem.

Dr. Farnsworth obtained her Ph.D. in Space and Planetary Sciences from the University of Arkansas in 2020 with a thesis titled, "An Experimental Investigation of Liquid Hydrocarbons in a Simulated Titan Environment". For her undergraduate, she graduated with honors from Texas A&M University in 2014 with B.S. in Environmental Geosciences, track in climate change, and minors in meteorology and geography.

Dr. Farnsworth is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate with CRESST/UMBC and is a Dragonfly Science Team Associate and a Collaborator on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.

Research Interests


Solar System: Moons

Liquid Hydrocarbons, Liquid-Atmosphere Interactions, Cryogenics, Physical Chemistry, Nitrogen Gas Dissolution/Diffusion Kinetics, Nitrogen Exsolution, Methane-Hydrologic Cycle, Cassini VIMS, Prebiotic Chemistry


Postdoctoral Research Associate

CRESST/UMBC/GSFC - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

2023 - Present

NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow

USRA/ORAU/GSFC - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

2021 - 2023

Graduate Research Assistant

University of Arkansas - Fayetteville, AR

2015 - 2020

Graduate School and International Education Student Ambassador

University of Arkansas - Fayetteville, AR

2016 - 2020

Laboratory Technician

Texas A&M University - College Station, TX

2014 - 2015


University of Arkansas

Ph.D. Space and Planetary Sciences, 2020

An Experimental Investigation of Liquid Hydrocarbons in a Simulated Titan Environment

Texas A&M University

B.S. Environmental Geosciences, 2014

Minors: Meteorology & Geography

Cum Laude

Professional Service

-- Panelist, NASA ROSES review panel 2023

-- Executive Secretary, NASA ROSES review panels 2019, 2021

-- External Reviewer, NASA ROSES review panels 2019, 2021, 2022

-- External Reviewer, FINESST review panel 2022



Madan, I., M. G. Trainer, G. C. Collins, and K. K. Farnsworth. 2023. Characterizing phase transitions for titan's surface molecules: Implications for Dragonfly Planetary and Space Science 239 (105804): 1-14 [10.1016/j.pss.2023.105804]

Farnsworth, K. K., A. Soto, V. F. Chevrier, J. K. Steckloff, and J. M. Soderblom. 2023. Floating Liquid Droplets on the Surface of Cryogenic Liquids: Implications for Titan Rain ACS Earth and Space Chemistry 7 (2): 439-448 [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.2c00311]

Steckloff, J. K., J. M. Soderblom, K. K. Farnsworth, et al. V. F. Chevrier, J. Hanley, A. Soto, J. J. Groven, W. M. Grundy, L. A. Pearce, S. C. Tegler, and A. Engle. 2020. Stratification Dynamics of Titan’s Lakes via Methane Evaporation The Planetary Science Journal 1 (2): 26 [10.3847/psj/ab974e]

Farnsworth, K. K., V. F. Chevrier, J. K. Steckloff, et al. D. Laxton, S. Singh, A. Soto, and J. M. Soderblom. 2019. Nitrogen Exsolution and Bubble Formation in Titan's Lakes Geophysical Research Letters 46 (23): 13658-13667 [10.1029/2019gl084792]

Czaplinski, E. C., W. A. Gilbertson, K. K. Farnsworth, and V. F. Chevrier. 2019. Experimental Study of Ethylene Evaporites under Titan Conditions ACS Earth and Space Chemistry 3 (10): 2353-2362 [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.9b00204]