Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Martin Andrew Cordiner


Martin Andrew Cordiner's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.286.8797
Org Code: 691
Mail Code 691
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Missions & Projects

Brief Bio

Dr. Martin Cordiner is a Research Associate Professor at the Department of Physics, Catholic University of America. He works as a full-time researcher in astrochemistry and planetary science at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. Cordiner's research aims to understand the chemistry and physics of solar system bodies, interstellar clouds and circumstellar environments, using a combination of ground and space-based observations, combined with detailed computer simulations. By studying the origin and evolution of complex organic molecules as matter passes from interstellar clouds to circumstellar disks and planetary surfaces, Dr. Cordiner's research constitutes part of NASA's ongoing effort to understand the chemical conditions that could lead to life in the universe.

Research Interests

Research Interests

Solar System: Astrochemistry

Ground and space-based spectroscopy of gas and dust in Solar System bodies (including comets and icy sattelites), interstellar clouds and circumstellar environments, at wavelengths from the optical to radio. 

Interferometric mapping of organic molecules in comets, protostars and Titan's atmosphere.

Chemical kinetic modeling of hydrocarbons, nitriles and negative ions in cometary atmospheres, star-forming regions and stellar outflows.

Radiative transfer and excitation modeling of molecular emission lines in extraterrestrial sources.

Observations of Galactic and Extragalactic diffuse interstellar bands, including optical studies of fullerenes and small-scale strcuture in the ISM.


Research Associate Professor

Catholic University of America - Washington DC

July 2021 - Present

Principal Investigator in Astrochemistry and Planetary Science

Catholic University of America - Washington DC

October 2014 - June 2021

Research Associate in Astrochemistry and Astrobiology

Catholic University of America - Washington DC

March 2009 - October 2014

Research Fellow in Molecular Astrophysics

Queen's University - Belfast, UK

October 2006 - February 2009


Business Science Fellow

South African Astronomical Observatory - Cape Town, South Africa

June 2006 - September 2006



2006 - Ph.D in Astrochemistry, The University of Nottingham, UK
2001 - MSci Hons. Physics, University of Bristol, UK

Professional Societies

American Astronomical Society

2009 - Present


NASA Robert H. Goddard Exceptional Achievement for Science Award 2015. For interferometric mapping of cometary and planetary atmospheres.

Selected Publications


2023. "Gas Sources from the Coma and Nucleus of Comet 46P/Wirtanen Observed Using ALMA." The Astrophysical Journal 953 (1): 59 [10.3847/1538-4357/ace0bc] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Phosphine in the Venusian Atmosphere: A Strict Upper Limit From SOFIA GREAT Observations." Geophysical Research Letters 49 (22): [10.1029/2022gl101055] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "A SUBLIME 3D Model for Cometary Coma Emission: The Hypervolatile-rich Comet C/2016 R2 (PanSTARRS)." The Astrophysical Journal 929 (1): 38 [10.3847/1538-4357/ac5893] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Neutral–neutral synthesis of organic molecules in cometary comae." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 504 (4): 5401-5408 [10.1093/mnras/stab1123] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Detection of Dynamical Instability in Titan’s Thermospheric Jet." The Astrophysical Journal 904 (1): L12 [10.3847/2041-8213/abc688] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Unusually high CO abundance of the first active interstellar comet." Nature Astronomy [10.1038/s41550-020-1087-2] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "ALMA Spectral Imaging of Titan Contemporaneous with Cassini's Grand Finale." The Astronomical Journal 158 (2): 76 [10.3847/1538-3881/ab2d20] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Confirming Interstellar C60 + Using the Hubble Space Telescope." The Astrophysical Journal 875 (2): L28 [10.3847/2041-8213/ab14e5] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "ALMA Autocorrelation Spectroscopy of Comets: The HCN/H13CN Ratio in C/2012 S1 (ISON)." The Astrophysical Journal 870 (2): L26 [10.3847/2041-8213/aafb05] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Interferometric Imaging of Titan’s HC3N, H13CCCN, and HCCC15N." The Astrophysical Journal 859 (1): L15 [10.3847/2041-8213/aac38d] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Mapping Vinyl Cyanide and Other Nitriles in Titan's Atmosphere Using ALMA." The Astronomical Journal 154 206 [10.3847/1538-3881/aa8eef] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Measuring molecular abundances in comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) using the APEX telescope." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 474 (1): 1099-1107 [10.1093/mnras/stx2802] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "ALMA detection and astrobiological potential of vinyl cyanide on Titan." Science Advances 3 e1700022 [10.1126/sciadv.1700022] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Searching for Interstellar C60+ Using a New Method for High Signal-to-noise HST/STIS Spectroscopy." The Astrophysical Journal 843 (1): L2 [10.3847/2041-8213/aa78f7] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "ALMA Mapping of Rapid Gas and Dust Variations in Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON):New Insights into the Origin of Cometary HNC." The Astrophysical Journal 838 (2): 147 [10.3847/1538-4357/aa6590] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Thermal Physics of the Inner Coma: ALMA Studies of the Methanol Distribution and Excitation in Comet C/2012 K1 (PanSTARRS)." The Astrophysical Journal 837 (2): 177 [10.3847/1538-4357/aa6211] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "EXTERNALLY HEATED PROTOSTELLAR CORES IN THE OPHIUCHUS STAR-FORMING REGION." The Astrophysical Journal 835 (1): 3 [10.3847/1538-4357/835/1/3] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "ON THE ORIGIN OF C4H AND CH3OH IN PROTOSTELLAR ENVELOPES." The Astrophysical Journal 833 (1): L14 [10.3847/2041-8213/833/1/l14] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "On the nature of the enigmatic object IRAS 19312+1950: “A rare phase of massive star formation?." The Astrophysical Journal 828 (1): 51 [10.3847/0004-637x/828/1/51] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "ALMA OBSERVATIONS OF HCN AND ITS ISOTOPOLOGUES ON TITAN." The Astronomical Journal 152 (2): 42 [10.3847/0004-6256/152/2/42] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Isotopic ratios of carbon and oxygen in Titan's CO using ALMA." The Astrophysical Journal 821 (1): L8 [10.3847/2041-8205/821/1/l8] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Ethyl Cyanide On Titan: Spectroscopic Detection and Mapping Using ALMA." ApJ 800 L14 [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "ALMA Measurements of the HNC and HC3N Distributions in Titans Atmosphere." ApJ 795 L30 [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Mapping the release of volatiles in the inner comae of comets C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) and C/2012 S1 (ISON) using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array." ApJ 792 L2 [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Negative ion chemistry in the coma of comet 1P/Halley." Meteoritics and Planetary Science 49 21 [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "The UMIST database for astrochemistry 2012." A&A 550 36 [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "On the ubiquity of molecular anions in the dense interstellar medium." ApJ 770 48 [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Gas-grain chemical models for interstellar carbon chain anions." ApJ 749 120 [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Organic chemistry of low-mass star-forming cores I: 7 mm spectroscopy of Chamaeleon MMS1." ApJ 744 131 [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Isotopic Anomalies in Primitive Solar System Matter: Spin-state-dependent Fractionation of Nitrogen and Deuterium in Interstellar Clouds." ApJ 757 L11 [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "The abundance of C3H2 and other small hydrocarbons in the diffuse interstellar medium." ApJ 753 L28 [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Discovery of Interstellar Anions in Cepheus and Auriga." The Astrophysical Journal Letters 730 L18 [Full Text] [10.1088/2041-8205/730/2/L18] [Journal Article/Letter]


2016. "Observations of HCN and its Isotopologues on Titan using ALMA." American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts 227 141.19 [Proceedings]