Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Perry A Gerakines (he/him)

(Associate Chief)

Perry A Gerakines (he/him)'s Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.286.9179
Org Code: 691
Mail Code 691
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Missions & Projects

Brief Bio

Research Interests

Cosmic Ices

Solar System: Astrochemistry

I specialize in the study of interstellar and planetary ices, and my focus is on laboratory measurements of their physical, chemical, and spectroscopic properties. These include icy dust grain mantles found in dark interstellar clouds as well as icy materials found on the surfaces of objects within the outer Solar System (comets, icy moons, Kuiper Belt Objects, etc.).

I have used spectroscopy in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as the infrared or ultraviolet, to study the compositions of astrophysically relevant materials. Lab data help to predict and interpret observations made with astronomical observatories (such as the Spitzer or James Webb Space Telescopes) and planetary missions (such as Cassini or New Horizons). I also create laboratory analogs of interstellar and solar-system ices in order to understand the physical and chemical changes they undergo when exposed to particle radiation or high-energy photons.


Solar System: Astrobiology

In work supported by the Goddard Center for Astrobiology, I have studied the survivability of amino acids glycine, alanine, and phenylalanine in icy planetary subsurfaces subjected to particle radiation (Mars, Europa, comets).  This work has been highlighted in a NASA press release from 2013 and featured on the website of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

Spectroscopy of Astrophysical Ices

Solar System: Astrochemistry

This includes measurements of the infrared spectra of mixed molecular ices of astrophysical interest at temperatures from 10 to 300 K; the determination of parameters such as complex refractive indices (optical constants), band intensities (band strengths), and absorption coefficients. 

Infrared Observational Astronomy

Astrophysics: Interstellar Medium

Studies of dust and ice in the interstellar medium (ISM); Extinction and reddening of starlight by dust; Polarization of starlight in the ISM; Infrared absorption features due to interstellar dust and ice; the abundance of interstellar molecules in dust grain mantles; observations at international ground-based telescopes (such as the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope) and using space observatories (such as the Infrared Space Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope)

Planetary Exploration and Missions

Solar System: Solar System

I am a Deputy Project Scientist for the Comet Astrobiology Exploration SAmple Return (CAESAR) mission to be proposed to NASA’s New Frontiers Program. CAESAR would sample the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and return the sample to Earth for detailed studies. It would be the farthest-reaching sample return mission in history. 

Current Projects

Cosmic Ice Laboratory


Submillimeter Spectroscopy of Sublimated Ices (SubLIME)


NASA Planetary R&A

Solar System

Postdoctoral Advisor


  • Current advisor for NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow Yukiko Yarnall.since September 2019
  • Former advisor to NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow Karen Smith


  • 1998 -- Ph.D., Physics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)
  • 1995 -- Two-year Research Degree (M.S.), Astronomy, Leiden University (Leiden, the Netherlands)
  • 1993 -- B.S., Physics (minor in Astrophysics), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)


Associate Lab Chief, Astrochemistry (Code 691)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

December 2019 - Present

Space Scientist

Astrochemistry (Code 691), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

September 2010 - Present

Associate Professor (tenured)

Department of Physics, the University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

October 2006 - August 2012

Assistant Professor

Department of Physics, the University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

September 2000 - September 2006

Postdoctoral Research Associate

National Research Council - National Academy of Sciences - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

November 1998 - August 2000

Professional Societies

American Astronomical Society (AAS)

Division for Planetary Sciences, Laboratory Astrophysics Division

1997 - Present

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

1999 - Present

International Astronomical Union (IAU)

Division B Facilities, Technologies and Data Science, Division F Planetary Systems and Astrobiology, Division H Interstellar Matter and Local Universe, Commission B5 Laboratory Astrophysics, Commission F3 Astrobiology, Commission H2 Astrochemistry

2002 - Present

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

2016 - Present

Society of Physics Students (SPS)

1995 - Present

Asia-Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS)

2005 - Present

American Chemical Society (ACS)

1998 - 2014

Professional Service

Regular manuscript reviewer for professional journals such as the Astrophysical Journal, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Icarus, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Spectrochimica Acta, ACS Earth and Space Chemistry, Molecular Astrophysics, and Astrobiology.

Regular proposal reviewer for funding programs at NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Teaching Experience

While employed as a faculty member in the Department of Physics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, I was the instructor for 100-level Astronomy courses (one per semester), and each course had approximately 75-100 enrolled students. I also was the instructor for undergraduate Physics courses for Physics majors, such as freshman-level Physics I & II, junior/senior-level Introductory Quantum Mechanics I & II, and graduate-level Celestial Mechanics. I mentored 1-2 undergraduates every summer and was the primary adviser for both Master's and PhD graduate dissertations. My students at UAB included Dr. Amanda Cook, Dr. Douglas White, and Dr. Christina Richey.

Other Professional Information

For a complete listing of my publications and presentations, see the results of a Harvard ADS Query for the author name "Gerakines".

Also see my Publons profile.

Selected Publications


2024. "Sublimation and infrared spectral properties of ammonium cyanide." Icarus 413 116007 [10.1016/j.icarus.2024.116007] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Gas-phase Ortho-to-para Ratio of Formaldehyde Formed at Low Temperatures in Laboratory Ices." The Astrophysical Journal Letters 958 (2): L41 [10.3847/2041-8213/ad0bee] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Infrared Spectra and Vapor Pressures of Crystalline C2N2, with Comparisons to Crystalline HCN." The Planetary Science Journal 4 (11): 205 [10.3847/psj/ad0040] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Infrared spectra and optical constants of astronomical ices: V. cyclopropane and ethylene oxide." Icarus 396 115499 [10.1016/j.icarus.2023.115499] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Carbon monoxide ices – a semicentennial review and update for crystalline CO along with the first IR spectrum and band strength for amorphous CO." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 522 (2): 3145-3162 [10.1093/mnras/stad1164] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Influences on Infrared Spectra of Benzene Ices for Titan, Comets, and Beyond: Annealings, Artifacts, and Isosbestic Points." The Planetary Science Journal 4 (3): 55 [10.3847/psj/acc337] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Compact Non-Dispersive Infrared Gas Analyzer." U.S. Patent 11,391,672. Washington DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office July 19th 2022 [Other]

2022. "Benzene Vapor Pressures at Titan Temperatures: First Microbalance Results." The Planetary Science Journal 3 (5): 120 [10.3847/PSJ/ac67a5] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Infrared Spectral Intensities of Amine Ices, Precursors to Amino Acids." Astrobiology 22 (4): 452-461 [10.1089/ast.2021.0138] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Radiolytic Destruction of Uracil in Interstellar and Solar System Ices." Astrobiology 22 (3): 233-241 [10.1089/ast.2021.0053] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Ammonia Ices Revisited: New IR Intensities and Optical Constants for Solid NH3." The Astrophysical Journal 925 (2): 156 [10.3847/1538-4357/ac3e74] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Direct measurements of infrared intensities of HCN and H2O + HCN ices for laboratory and observational astrochemistry." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 509 (3): 3515-3522 [10.1093/mnras/stab2992] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Gas Analyzer for Monitoring H2O and CO2 Partial Pressures in Space Instrumentation." IEEE Sensors Journal 22 (1): 12576-12587 [10.1109/JSEN.2022.3177079] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Sublimation of Laboratory Ices Millimeter/Submillimeter Experiment (SubLIME): Structure-specific Identifications of Products from UV-photolyzed Methanol Ice." The Astrophysical Journal 913 (1): 61 [10.3847/1538-4357/abf14e] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "A New Method for Simulating Photoprocesses in Astrochemical Models." The Astrophysical Journal 910 (1): 72 [10.3847/1538-4357/abd778] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Laboratory Studies of Astronomical Ices: Reaction Chemistry and Spectroscopy." Accounts of Chemical Research 54 (2): 280-290 [10.1021/acs.accounts.0c00637] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Infrared spectra and optical constants of astronomical ices: III. Propane, propylene, and propyne." Icarus 354 114033 [10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114033] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "A Modified Algorithm and Open-source Computational Package for the Determination of Infrared Optical Constants Relevant to Astrophysics." The Astrophysical Journal 901 (1): 52 [10.3847/1538-4357/abad39] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "The Radiation Stability of Thymine in Solid H2O." Astrobiology 20 (10): 956-963 [10.1089/ast.2019.2199] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Propanal, an interstellar aldehyde - first infrared band strengths and other properties of the amorphous and crystalline forms." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 494 (4): 4606–4615 [10.1093/mnras/staa1028] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Testing Densities and Refractive Indices of Extraterrestrial Ice Components Using Molecular Structures—Organic Compounds and Molar Refractions." The Astrophysical Journal 891 (1): 22 [10.3847/1538-4357/ab6efa] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Millimeter/Submillimeter Spectroscopic Detection of Desorbed Ices: A New Technique in Laboratory Astrochemistry." The Journal of Physical Chemistry A 123 (40): 8702-8708 [10.1021/acs.jpca.9b04587] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Molecular identifications in experiments with astronomical ice analogues: new data, old strategies, and the N2 + acetone system." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 485 (1): 861-871 [10.1093/mnras/stz254] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Propynal, an interstellar molecule with an exceptionally strong C≡C infrared band – laboratory infrared data and applications." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 482 (3): 4009-4017 [10.1093/mnras/sty2821] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Infrared Spectra and Interstellar Sulfur: New Laboratory Results for H2S and Four Malodorous Thiol Ices." The Astrophysical Journal 867 (2): 138 [10.3847/1538-4357/aae52a] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "IR spectra and properties of solid acetone, an interstellar and cometary molecule." Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy 193 33-39 [10.1016/j.saa.2017.11.055] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Infrared spectra and band strengths of amorphous and crystalline N2O." The Journal of Chemical Physics 146 (2): 024304 [10.1063/1.4973548] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "The Effects of Experimental Conditions on the Refractive Index and Density of Low-Temperature Ices: Solid Carbon Dioxide." The Astrophysical Journal 827 (2): 98 [10.3847/0004-637x/827/2/98] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "First infrared band strengths for amorphous CO2, an overlooked component of interstellar ices." The Astrophysical Journal Letters 808 (2): L40 [Full Text] [10.1088/2041-8205/808/2/L40] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Observations of the icy universe." Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics 53 541-581 [Full Text] [10.1146/annurev-astro-082214-122348] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Metabolic precursors in astrophysical ice analogs: implications for meteorites and comets ." Chemical Communications 51 (59): 11787-11790 [Full Text] [10.1039/C5CC03272E] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Infrared spectra and optical constants of elusive amorphous methane." Astrophysical Journal Letters 805 (2): L20 [Full Text] [10.1088/2041-8205/805/2/L20] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Activation of weak IR fundamentals of two species of astrochemical interest in the Td point group – the importance of amorphous ices." Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 17 (19): 12545-12552 [Full Text] [10.1039/C5CP00975H] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "The radiation stability of glycine in solid CO2 – In situ laboratory measurements with applications to Mars." Icarus 252 466-472 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.icarus.2015.02.008] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Infrared Spectra and Optical Constants of Astronomical Ices: II. Ethane and Ethylene." Icarus 243 147-148 [10.1016/j.icarus.2014.09.001] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Investigation of pyridine carboxylic acids in CM2 carbonaceous chondrites: Potential precursor molecules for ancient coenzymes." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 136 1-12 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.gca.2014.04.001] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Irradiated benzene ice provides clues to meteoritic organic chemistry." Icarus 226 (2): 1201-1209 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.icarus.2013.07.033] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Glycine's Radiolytic Destruction in Ices: First in situ Laboratory Measurements for Mars." Astrobiology 13 647-655 [10.1089/ast.2012.0943] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Near-infrared band strengths of molecules diluted in N2 and H2O ice mixtures relevant to interstellar and planetary ices." The Astrophysical Journal 759 74-86 [10.1088/0004-637X/759/1/74] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "In-situ Measurements of the Radiation Stability of Amino Acids at 15 - 140 K." Icarus 220 647-659 [10.1016/j.icarus.2012.06.001] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "The Thermal Evolution of Ices in the Environments of Newly Formed Stars: The CO2 Diagnostic." The Astrophysical Journal 730 (2): 124-138 [10.1088/0004-637X/730/2/124] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Laboratory Spectra of the CO2 Bending-Mode Feature in Interstellar Ice Analogs Subject to Thermal Processing." Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 180 182-191 [10.1088/0067-0049/180/1/182] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Simultaneous Fitting of Mars Moessbauer Data." Hyperfine Interactions 188 113-120 [10.1007/s10751-008-9896-1] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "The Nature of Carbon Dioxide Bearing Ices in Quiescent Molecular Clouds." The Astrophysical Journal 695 94-100 [10.1088/0004-637X/695/1/94] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Fully Sampled Maps of Ices and Silicates in Front of Cepheus A East with Spitzer." The Astrophysical Journal 672 361-370 [10.1086/523790] [Journal Article/Letter]

2007. "The abundance of carbon dioxide ice in the quiescent intracloud medium." The Astrophysical Journal 655 (1): 332-341 [10.1086/509772] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "Photoelectric Emission Measurements on the Analogs of Individual Cosmic Dust Grains." The Astrophysical Journal 645 (1): 324-336 [10.1086/504281] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "Spitzer Observations of CO2 Ice Towards Field Stars in the Taurus Molecular Cloud." The Astrophysical Journal 627 (1): L33-L36 [10.1086/431932] [Journal Article/Letter]

2005. "The Strengths of Near-Infrared Absorption Features Relevant to Interstellar and Planetary ices." The Astrophysical Journal 620 (2): 1140-1150 [10.1086/427166] [Journal Article/Letter]

2004. "Ultraviolet Photolysis and Proton Irradiation of Astrophysical Ice Analogs Containing Hydrogen Cyanide." Icarus 170 (1): 202-213 [10.1016/j.icarus.2004.02.005] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Solid Carbon Dioxide in Regions of Low-Mass Star Formation." The Astrophysical Journal 558 (1): 185-193 [10.1086/322480] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "The Formation of Cyanate Ion (OCN-) in Interstellar Ice Analogs." The Astrophysical Journal 550 (2): 1140-1150 [10.1086/319799] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Mid- and Far-Infrared Spectroscopic Studies of the Influence of Temperature, Ultraviolet Photolysis, and Ion Irradiation on Cosmic-Type Ices." Spectrochimica Acta A 57 (4): 843-858 [10.1016/S1386-1425(00)00448-0] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Interstellar Extinction and Polarization in the Taurus Dark Clouds: The Optical Properties of Dust near the Diffuse/Dense Cloud Interface." The Astrophysical Journal 547 (2): 872-884 [10.1086/318421] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Energetic Processing of Laboratory Ice Analogs: UV Photolysis vs. Ion Bombardment." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 106 (E12): 33381-33386 [10.1029/2000JE001320] [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Technology Considerations Relevant to an Exobiology Surface-Science Approach for Europa." Astrobiology 1 467-476 [Journal Article/Letter]

2001. "Carbon Suboxide in Astrophysical Ice Analogs." Icarus 154 372-380 [Journal Article/Letter]

2000. "An Inventory of Interstellar Ices toward the Embedded Protostar W33A." The Astrophysical Journal 536 (1): 347-356 [10.1086/308940] [Journal Article/Letter]

2000. "Carbonic Acid Production in H2O:CO2 ices UV Photolysis vs Proton Bombardment." Astronomy & Astrophysics 357 793-800 [Journal Article/Letter]

2000. "ISO-SWS Observations of Interstellar Solid 13CO2: Heated Ice and the Galactic 12C/13C Abundance Ratio." Astronomy & Astrophysics 353 (1): 349-362 [10.48550/arXiv.astro-ph/9909477] [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "Observations of Solid Carbon Dioxide in Molecular Clouds with the Infrared Space Observatory." The Astrophysical Journal 522 (1): 357-377 [10.1086/307611] [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "Weak Ice Absorption Features in the Spectrum of the Obscured Young Stellar Object W33 A." Astronomy & Astrophysics 343 966-976 [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "Constraints on the Abundance of Solid O2 in Dense Clouds from ISO-SWS and Ground-Based Observations ." Astronomy & Astrophysics 346 L57-L60 [Journal Article/Letter]

1999. "Laboratory Studies of Thermally Processed H2O-CH3OH-CO2 Ice Mixtures and their Astrophysical Implications." Astronomy & Astrophysics 350 240?253 [Journal Article/Letter]

1998. "Processing of Icy Mantles in Protostellar Envelopes." The Astrophysical Journal 498 (2): 716-727 [10.1086/305569] [Journal Article/Letter]

1998. "Detection of Abundant CO2 Ice in the Quiescent Dark Cloud Medium toward Elias 16." The Astrophysical Journal 498 L159-L163 [Journal Article/Letter]

1997. "Infrared Spectroscopy of Dust in the Diffuse Interstellar Medium toward Cygnus OB2 No 12." The Astrophysical Journal 490 (2): 729-734 [10.1086/304914] [Journal Article/Letter]

1997. "On the Distance to the Chamaeleon I and II Associations." Astronomy & Astrophysics 327 1194-1205 [Journal Article/Letter]

1997. "Infrared Spectroscopy of Interstellar Apolar Ice Analogs." Astronomy & Astrophysics 328 649-669 [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "Discovery of Solid Formaldehyde toward the Protostar GL 2136: Observations and Laboratory Simulation." Astronomy & Astrophysics 309 633-647 [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "Infrared Properties of Isolated Water Ice." Astronomy & Astrophysics 312 263-274 [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "Ultraviolet Processing of Interstellar Ice Analogs: Pure Ices." Astronomy & Astrophysics 312 289-305 [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "A Laboratory Database of Solid CO and CO2 for ISO." Astronomy & Astrophysics 315 L341-L344 [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "SWS Observations of Solid CO2 in Molecular Clouds." Astronomy & Astrophysics 315 L345-L348 [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "A Search for Interstellar Gas-phase CO2 - Gas:Solid-State Abundance Ratios." Astronomy & Astrophysics 315 L349-L352 [Journal Article/Letter]

1996. "An ISO-SWS View of Interstellar Ices: First Results." Astronomy & Astrophysics 315 L357-L360 [Journal Article/Letter]

1995. "Grain Alignment in the Taurus Dark Cloud." The Astrophysical Journal 455 L171-L175 [10.1086/309828] [Journal Article/Letter]

1995. "Approaching the Interstellar Grain Organic Refractory Component." The Astrophysical Journal 455 L177-L180 [10.1086/309834] [Journal Article/Letter]

1995. "Recent Results from the Leiden Observatory Laboratory: (a) Band Strengths in Mixed Ices; (b) UV Photolysis of Solid Methanol." Planetary & Space Science 43 (10): 1253-1256 [10.1016/0032-0633(95)00011-S] [Journal Article/Letter]

1995. "A Review of Interstellar Polarization Properties and Recent Measurements toward the Chamaeleon I and Taurus Dark Clouds." Planetary & Space Science 43 (10): 1325-1328 [10.1016/0032-0633(95)00027-3] [Journal Article/Letter]

1995. "Origin of Organic Matter in the Protosolar Nebula and in Comets." Advances in Space Research 16 (2): 9-16 [10.1016/0273-1177(95)00186-I] [Journal Article/Letter]

1995. "The Infrared Band Strengths of H2O, CO, and CO2 in Laboratory Simulations of Astrophysical Ice Mixtures." Astronomy & Astrophysics 296 810-818 [Journal Article/Letter]

1994. "A Study of the Chamaeleon-I Dark Cloud and T-Association - Part VI - Interstellar Polarization, Grain Alignment, and Magnetic Field." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 268 (1): 1-12 [10.1093/mnras/268.1.1] [Journal Article/Letter]