Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Ravi Kumar Kopparapu

(Research AST, Planetary Studies)


Org Code: 699

Mail Code: 699
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Employer: NASA

Brief Bio

My research interests are in extrasolar planet habitability, atmosphere modeling and characterization. Specifically, I use 1-dimensional and 3-dimensional climate and photochemical models to determine the conditions needed for a terrestrial planet to sustain liquid water on it's surface. Life, as we know it, requires liquid water; therefore, finding worlds around other stars and identifying the signatures of surface water can potentially allow us to discover extraterrestrial life. I am also interested super-Earth and mini-Neptune atmospheres, and their characterization. There are no such planets in our solar system, so they provide an excellent opportunity to study planets that are totally new to us.

I am also interested in identifying technosignatures. Just as biosignatures are signs of biology, technosignatures are a signs of technology. This field is in it's nascent stage (just like biosignatures was several decades ago), so its a good time to get involved.


Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, LA

Ph.D. in Physics, December 2006

M.S. (Physics), LSU, May 2003

M.Sc.(Physics), University of Pune, India, June 1998

B.Sc. (Electronics), Nagarjuna University, India, June 1996

Awards: NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, 2020


Co-Lead, Sellers Exoplanet Environment Collaboration (SEEC)

Science-PI: CHAMPs Team.

2015 – Present: Planetary Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

9/2013 – 08/2015: Research Associate, Planetary Science, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

9/2010 – 8/2013: Postdoctoral Scholar, NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Lab, Penn State 9/2007 – 8/2010: Posdoctoral Scholar, Center for Gravitational-Wave Astronomy, Penn State

1/2007 – 7/2007: Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Computation and Technology, LSU


Extrasolar planets: habitability, atmospheric modeling and characterization, planetary transit analysis.




Ostberg, C. M., S. D. Guzewich, S. R. Kane, et al. E. Kohler, L. D. Oman, T. J. Fauchez, R. K. Kopparapu, J. Richardson, and P. Whelley. 2023. The Prospect of Detecting Volcanic Signatures on an ExoEarth Using Direct Imaging The Astronomical Journal 166 (5): 199 [10.3847/1538-3881/acfe12]

Villanueva, G. L., M. Cordiner, P. G. Irwin, et al. I. de Pater, B. Butler, M. Gurwell, S. N. Milam, C. A. Nixon, S. H. Luszcz-Cook, C. F. Wilson, V. Kofman, G. Liuzzi, S. Faggi, T. J. Fauchez, M. Lippi, R. Cosentino, A. E. Thelen, A. Moullet, P. Hartogh, E. M. Molter, S. Charnley, G. N. Arney, A. M. Mandell, N. Biver, A. C. Vandaele, K. R. de Kleer, and R. Kopparapu. 2021. No evidence of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus from independent analyses Nature Astronomy 5 (7): 631-635 [10.1038/s41550-021-01422-z]

Kopparapu, R., G. Arney, J. Haqq-Misra, J. Lustig-Yaeger, and G. Villanueva. 2021. Nitrogen Dioxide Pollution as a Signature of Extraterrestrial Technology The Astrophysical Journal 908 (2): 164 [10.3847/1538-4357/abd7f7]

Gilbert, E. A., T. Barclay, J. E. Schlieder, et al. E. V. Quintana, B. J. Hord, V. B. Kostov, E. D. Lopez, J. F. Rowe, K. Hoffman, L. M. Walkowicz, M. L. Silverstein, J. E. Rodriguez, A. Vanderburg, G. Suissa, V. S. Airapetian, M. S. Clement, S. N. Raymond, A. W. Mann, E. Kruse, J. J. Lissauer, K. D. Colón, R. K. Kopparapu, L. Kreidberg, S. Zieba, K. A. Collins, S. N. Quinn, S. B. Howell, C. Ziegler, E. H. Vrijmoet, F. C. Adams, G. N. Arney, P. T. Boyd, J. Brande, C. J. Burke, L. Cacciapuoti, Q. Chance, J. L. Christiansen, G. Covone, T. Daylan, D. Dineen, C. D. Dressing, Z. Essack, T. J. Fauchez, B. Galgano, A. R. Howe, L. Kaltenegger, S. R. Kane, C. Lam, E. J. Lee, N. K. Lewis, S. E. Logsdon, A. M. Mandell, T. Monsue, F. Mullally, S. E. Mullally, R. R. Paudel, D. Pidhorodetska, P. Plavchan, N. T. Reyes, S. A. Rinehart, B. Rojas-Ayala, J. C. Smith, K. G. Stassun, P. Tenenbaum, L. D. Vega, G. L. Villanueva, E. T. Wolf, A. Youngblood, G. R. Ricker, R. K. Vanderspek, D. W. Latham, S. Seager, J. N. Winn, J. M. Jenkins, G. Bakos, C. Briceño, D. R. Ciardi, R. Cloutier, D. M. Conti, A. Couperus, M. Di Sora, N. L. Eisner, M. E. Everett, T. Gan, J. D. Hartman, T. Henry, G. Isopi, W.-C. Jao, E. L. Jensen, N. Law, F. Mallia, R. A. Matson, B. J. Shappee, M. Le Wood, and J. G. Winters. 2020. The First Habitable-zone Earth-sized Planet from TESS. I. Validation of the TOI-700 System The Astronomical Journal 160 (3): 116 [10.3847/1538-3881/aba4b2]

Suissa, G., E. T. Wolf, R. K. Kopparapu, et al. G. L. Villanueva, T. Fauchez, A. M. Mandell, G. Arney, E. A. Gilbert, J. E. Schlieder, T. Barclay, E. V. Quintana, E. Lopez, J. E. Rodriguez, and A. Vanderburg. 2020. The First Habitable Zone Earth-sized Planet from TESS. III: Climate States and Characterization Prospects for TOI-700 d The Astronomical Journal 160 (118): 19pp. [10.3847/1538-3881/aba4b4]

Pidhorodetska, D., T. J. Fauchez, G. L. Villanueva, S. D. Domagal-Goldman, and R. K. Kopparapu. 2020. Detectability of Molecular Signatures on TRAPPIST-1e through Transmission Spectroscopy Simulated for Future Space-based Observatories The Astrophysical Journal 898 (2): L33 [10.3847/2041-8213/aba4a1]

Guzewich, S. D., J. Lustig-Yaeger, C. E. Davis, et al. R. K. Kopparapu, M. J. Way, and V. S. Meadows. 2020. The Impact of Planetary Rotation Rate on the Reflectance and Thermal Emission Spectrum of Terrestrial Exoplanets around Sunlike Stars The Astrophysical Journal 893 (2): 140 [10.3847/1538-4357/ab83ec]

Suissa, G., A. M. Mandell, E. T. Wolf, et al. G. L. Villanueva, T. Fauchez, and R. K. Kopparapu. 2020. Dim Prospects for Transmission Spectra of Ocean Earths around M Stars The Astrophysical Journal 891 (1): 58 [10.3847/1538-4357/ab72f9]

Staguhn, J., A. Mandell, K. Stevenson, et al. P. Saxena, R. Kopparapu, D. Fixsen, E. Sharp, M. DiPirro, C. Knez, E. Wolf, K. Sotzen, K. Mandt, Q. Gong, and G. Villanueva. 2019. The Mid-InfraRed Exo-planet CLimate Explorer MIRECLE: Exploring the Nearest M-Earths Through Ultra-Stable Mid-IR Transit and Phase-Curve Spectroscopy Astro2020: Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics APC White Paper

Kostov, V. B., J. E. Schlieder, T. Barclay, et al. E. V. Quintana, K. D. Colón, J. Brande, K. A. Collins, A. D. Feinstein, S. Hadden, S. R. Kane, L. Kreidberg, E. Kruse, C. Lam, E. Matthews, B. T. Montet, F. J. Pozuelos, K. G. Stassun, J. G. Winters, G. Ricker, R. Vanderspek, D. Latham, S. Seager, J. Winn, J. M. Jenkins, D. Afanasev, J. J. Armstrong, G. Arney, P. Boyd, G. Barentsen, K. Barkaoui, N. E. Batalha, C. Beichman, D. Bayliss, C. Burke, A. Burdanov, L. Cacciapuoti, A. Carson, D. Charbonneau, J. Christiansen, D. Ciardi, M. Clampin, K. I. Collins, D. M. Conti, J. Coughlin, G. Covone, I. Crossfield, L. Delrez, S. Domagal-Goldman, C. Dressing, E. Ducrot, Z. Essack, M. E. Everett, T. Fauchez, D. Foreman-Mackey, T. Gan, E. Gilbert, M. Gillon, E. Gonzales, A. Hamann, C. Hedges, H. Hocutt, K. Hoffman, E. P. Horch, K. Horne, S. Howell, S. Hynes, M. Ireland, J. M. Irwin, G. Isopi, E. L. Jensen, E. Jehin, L. Kaltenegger, J. F. Kielkopf, R. Kopparapu, N. Lewis, E. Lopez, J. J. Lissauer, A. W. Mann, F. Mallia, A. Mandell, R. A. Matson, T. Mazeh, T. Monsue, S. E. Moran, V. Moran, C. V. Morley, B. Morris, P. Muirhead, K. Mukai, S. Mullally, F. Mullally, C. Murray, N. Narita, E. Palle, D. Pidhorodetska, D. Quinn, H. Relles, S. Rinehart, M. Ritsko, J. E. Rodriguez, P. Rowden, J. F. Rowe, D. Sebastian, R. Sefako, S. Shahaf, A. Shporer, N. T. Reyes, P. Tenenbaum, E. B. Ting, J. D. Twicken, G. T. van Belle, L. Vega, J. Volosin, L. M. Walkowicz, and A. Youngblood. 2019. The L 98-59 System: Three Transiting, Terrestrial-size Planets Orbiting a Nearby M Dwarf The Astronomical Journal 158 (1): 32 [10.3847/1538-3881/ab2459]

Kopparapu, R. K., E. Hébrard, R. Belikov, et al. N. M. Batalha, G. D. Mulders, C. Stark, D. Teal, S. Domagal-Goldman, and A. Mandell. 2018. Exoplanet Classification and Yield Estimates for Direct Imaging Missions The Astrophysical Journal 856 (2): 122 [10.3847/1538-4357/aab205]

Haqq-Misra, J., E. T. Wolf, M. Joshi, X. Zhang, and R. K. Kopparapu. 2018. Demarcating Circulation Regimes of Synchronously Rotating Terrestrial Planets within the Habitable Zone The Astrophysical Journal 852 (2): 67 [10.3847/1538-4357/aa9f1f]

Fauchez, T., G. N. Arney, R. Kopparapu, and S. D. Domagal-Goldman. 2018. Explicit cloud representation in the <i>Atmos</i> 1D climate model for Earth and rocky planet applications AIMS Geosciences 4 (4): 180-191 [10.3934/geosci.2018.4.180]

Kopparapu, R. K., E. T. Wolf, G. Arney, et al. N. E. Batalha, J. Haqq-Misra, S. L. Grimm, and K. Heng. 2017. Habitable Moist Atmospheres on Terrestrial Planets near the Inner Edge of the Habitable Zone around M Dwarfs The Astrophysical Journal 845 (1): 5 [10.3847/1538-4357/aa7cf9]

Haqq-Misra, J., R. K. Kopparapu, and E. T. Wolf. 2017. Why do we find ourselves around a yellow star instead of a red star? International Journal of Astrobiology 17 (01): 77-86 [10.1017/s1473550417000118]

Wolf, E. T., A. L. Shields, R. K. Kopparapu, J. Haqq-Misra, and O. B. Toon. 2017. Constraints on Climate and Habitability for Earth-like Exoplanets Determined from a General Circulation Model The Astrophysical Journal 837 (2): 107 [10.3847/1538-4357/aa5ffc]

Kopparapu, R. 2016. A CATALOG OFKEPLERHABITABLE ZONE EXOPLANET CANDIDATES The Astrophysical Journal 830 (1): 1 [10.3847/0004-637x/830/1/1]

Kopparapu, R. 2013. A Revised Estimate of the Occurrence Rate of Terrestrial Planets in the Habitable Zones around Kepler M-dwarfs The Astrophysical Journal 767 (1): 5

Kopparapu, R. K., R. Ramirez, J. F. Kasting, et al. V. Eymet, T. D. Robinson, S. Mahadevan, R. C. Terrien, S. Domagal-Goldman, V. Meadows, and R. Deshpande. 2013. Erratum: Habitable Zones Around Main-sequence Stars: New Estimates’' (2013, ApJ, 765, 131) The Astrophysical Journal 770 82 [doi:10.1088/0004-637X/770/1/82]

Kopparapu, R. 2012. A Photochemical Model for the Carbon-rich Planet WASP-12b The Astrophysical Journal 745 (1): 10


Henning, W., J. Renaud, P. Saxena, et al. P. Whelley, A. Mandell, S. Matsumura, L. Glaze, T. Hurford, T. Livengood, C. Hamilton, M. Efroimsky, V. Makarov, C. Berghea, S. Guzewich, K. Tsigaridis, G. Arney, D. Cremons, S. Kane, J. Bleacher, R. Kopparapu, E. Kohler, Y. Lee, A. Rushby, W. Kuang, R. Barnes, J. A. Richardson, P. Driscoll, N. Schmerr, A. Del Genio, A. Davies, L. Kaltenegger, L. Elkins-Tanton, Y. Fujii, L. Schaefer, S. Ranjan, E. Quintana, T. Barclay, K. Hamano, N. Petro, J. Kendall, E. Lopez, and D. Sasselov. 2018. Highly Volcanic Exoplanets, Lava Worlds, and Magma Ocean Worlds: An Emerging Class of Dynamic Exoplanets of Significant Scientific Priority ArXiv e-prints

Apai, D., N. Cowan, R. Kopparapu, et al. M. Kasper, R. Hu, C. Morley, Y. Fujii, S. Kane, M. Maley, A. del Genio, T. Karalidi, T. Komacek, E. Mamajek, A. Mandell, S. Domagal-Goldman, T. Barman, A. Boss, J. Breckinridge, I. Crossfield, W. Danchi, E. Ford, N. Iro, J. Kasting, P. Lowrance, N. Madhusudhan, M. McElwain, W. Moore, I. Pascucci, P. Plavchan, A. Roberge, G. Schneider, A. Showman, and M. Turnbull. 2017. Exploring Other Worlds: Science Questions for Future Direct Imaging Missions (EXOPAG SAG15 Report) eprint arXiv:1708.02821 --