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.