Dr. Caitlin Ahrens

Dr. Caitlin Ahrens

  • NASA POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW
  • 304.657.6961
  • NASA/GSFC
  • Mail Code: 698
  • COLUMBIA , MD 21044
  • Employer: UNIVERSITIES SPACE RESEARCH ASSOCIATION
  • Brief Bio

    Caitlin Ahrens' research involves remote sensing of icy surfaces and volatile interactions, including permanently shadowed craters at the lunar poles, focusing on the composition, phases, and thermodynamics of ices. Dr. Ahrens' specific expertise focuses on modeling of thermal phases of ices, and applications to geomorphological/geophysical data on icy surfaces, including the compositions and rheology of cryovolcanism. Dr. Ahrens also works on a number of planetary volcanism projects, including lava flow morphology, caldera formation, and rheology, on Mars, Ceres, and Pluto. Dr. Ahrens is currently applying LRO Diviner data with a myriad of other remote sensing data to investigate the volatiles at the lunar surface.

    Dr. Ahrens received her B.S. in Physics/Astrophysics and Geology from West Virginia University in 2015, and a Ph.D. in Space and Planetary Science at the University of Arkansas in 2020.

    Dr. Ahrens is currently a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at the Goddard Space Flight Center, advised by Dr. Noah Petro. 

    Current Projects

    Volatile Ice Modeling at the Lunar Permanently Shadowed Regions

    Using LRO Diviner data in combination with other remote sensing datasets to determine the stability and ice phases of the ices at the lunar poles

    GCA: Astrobiology from the Moon - Artemis Implications

    •Identify and characterize locations near the South Pole afford an opportunity to collect such samples.

    •Identify methods to evaluate the degree of contamination occurring due to human exploration.

    •Determine the possible distribution of volatiles reservoirs near the pole previously undetected through remote sensing analyses but preserved in the unique thermal environments at the lunar poles.  

    Structural and Tectonic Geomorphology on Pluto

    Using the LORRI/MVIC/LEISA datasets from the New Horizons spacecraft to model large structural and tectonic geology on the surface of Pluto, such as mountains and scarps

    Positions/Employment

    2020 - Present

    NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Research Associate

    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
    2015 - 2020

    Teaching Assistant/Research Associate

    Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
    2012 - 2012

    Research Experience Undergraduate (REU), Astrogeology Branch

    US Geological Survey, Flagstaff, AZ
    2011 - 2015

    Telescope Operator

    West Virginia University Physics & Astronomy Department, Morgantown, WV

    Education

    2020 - PhD - Space and Planetary Science Center - University of Arkansas

    [Dissertation: Understanding Ice Mixtures under Pluto Simulated Conditions and their Implications for Geophysical Processes]


    2015 - BS - Physics Department, Astrophysics Emphasis, West Virginia University

    2015 - BS - Geology Department, West Virginia University

    Professional Societies

    American Geophysical Union, 2018 - Present
    Seismological Society of America, 2014 - Present
    Geophysical Society of America, 2010 - Present
    Central Appalachian Astronomy Club, 2005 - Present
    Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG), 2016 - Present
    Lunar Exploration and Analysis Group (LEAG), 2020 - Present

    Professional Service

    LRO Planetary Science Working Group Member (2020-present)


    Goddard Center for Astrobiology Member (2020-present)


    LRO Diviner Science Team Member (2020-present)


    Encyclopedia of Lunar Science (Springer) Board Member and Section Editor (2021-present)


    NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador (2016-present)


    NASA ROSES proposal reviews for multiple panels (2018-present): roles as primary reviewer and executive secretary


    Reviewer for PSJ, ACS Earth Space Chemistry

    Awards

    2019: Rising Star Award - West Virginia University Alumni

    2019: FIRST LEGO League Coach/Mentor Service Award

    2018: Ten Outstanding Young Americans (Jaycees)

    2018: Outstanding Young West Virginians (Jaycees)

    2010: Astronomical League Horkheimer/D'Auria Youth Service Award

    Other Professional Information

    NASA Planetary Science Summer School (PSSS) Participant (2021)


    Marion County Discovery Center Board of Directors member (Marion Co., WV) - (2021-present)

    Publications

    Refereed

    Ahrens, C., V. Cataldo, and G. Leone. 2021. "Volcanic eruptions on Mars and lava flow morphology and thermodynamics ." Mars: A Volcanic World, (Accepted)

    Ahrens, C. 2021. "Petrologic evolution of Martian volcanism and clues from meteorites." Mars: A Volcanic World, (Accepted)

    Ahrens, C. J., D. A. Paige, T. M. Eubanks, et al. W. P. Blase, K. E. Mesick, W. Zimmerman, N. Petro, P. O. Hayne, and S. Price. 2021. "Small Penetrator Instrument Concept for the Advancement of Lunar Surface Science." The Planetary Science Journal, 2 (1): 38 [10.3847/psj/abda4f]

    Ahrens, C. 2020. "Modeling cryogenic mud volcanism on Pluto." Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 406: 107070 [10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2020.107070]

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2020. "Investigation of the morphology and interpretation of Hekla Cavus, Pluto." Icarus, 114108 [10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114108]

    Malaska, M. J., J. Radebaugh, R. M. Lopes, et al. K. L. Mitchell, T. Verlander, A. M. Schoenfeld, M. M. Florence, A. Le Gall, A. Solomonidou, A. G. Hayes, S. P. Birch, M. A. Janssen, L. Schurmeier, T. Cornet, C. Ahrens, and T. G. Farr. 2020. "Labyrinth terrain on Titan." Icarus, 344: 113764 [10.1016/j.icarus.2020.113764]

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2019. "Compressional Ridges on Baret Montes, Pluto as Observed by New Horizons." Geophysical Research Letters, 46 (24): 14328-14335 [10.1029/2019gl085648]

    Sizemore, H. G., B. E. Schmidt, D. A. Buczkowski, et al. M. M. Sori, J. C. Castillo‐Rogez, D. C. Berman, C. Ahrens, H. T. Chilton, K. H. Hughson, K. Duarte, K. A. Otto, M. T. Bland, A. Neesemann, J. E. Scully, D. A. Crown, S. C. Mest, D. A. Williams, T. Platz, P. Schenk, M. E. Landis, S. Marchi, N. Schorghofer, L. C. Quick, T. H. Prettyman, M. C. De Sanctis, A. Nass, G. Thangjam, A. Nathues, C. T. Russell, and C. A. Raymond. 2019. "A Global Inventory of Ice‐Related Morphological Features on Dwarf Planet Ceres: Implications for the Evolution and Current State of the Cryosphere." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 2018JE005699 [10.1029/2018je005699]

    Ahrens, C. J., W. M. Grundy, K. E. Mandt, et al. P. D. Cooper, O. M. Umurhan, and V. F. Chevrier. 2018. "Recent Advancements and Motivations of Simulated Pluto Experiments." Space Science Reviews, 214 (8): 130 [10.1007/s11214-018-0558-6]

    Charles, H., T. Titus, R. Hayward, C. Edwards, and C. Ahrens. 2017. "Comparison of the mineral composition of the sediment found in two Mars dunefields: Ogygis Undae and Gale crater – three distinct endmembers identified." Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 458: 152-160 [10.1016/j.epsl.2016.10.022]

    Non-Refereed

    Ahrens, C., M. E. Banks, and N. E. Petro. 2021. "The Spatial Relationship of Graben and Pit Craters at Rimae Daniell and the Implications of Scarp Formation." 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held virtually, 15-19 March, 2021. LPI Contribution No. 2548, id.1481

    Ahrens, C., N. E. Petro, and S. Li. 2021. "Preliminary Observations on the Relationship Between Fe-Signatures and PSR Locations at the Lunar South Pole." 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held virtually, 15-19 March, 2021. LPI Contribution No. 2548, id.1478

    Ahrens, C., N. E. Petro, and M. Siegler. 2020. "Preliminary Surface Thermal Flux Calculations Using LRO Diviner in Lunar Permanently Shadowed Craters." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 51: 1949.

    Maynard-Casely, H., C. Ahrens, H. Brand, and J. Hester. 2019. "Thinking outside the 'ice' box; grain size changes of solid nitrogen and its effects on the surface of Pluto." EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 EPSC-DPS2019-201.

    Ahrens, C., P. Byrne, and V. Chevrier. 2019. "Characterizing Faults Across the Surface of Pluto." Pluto System After New Horizons 7036.

    Ahrens, C., O. Umurhan, and V. Chevrier. 2019. "Overview of Thermal and Rheological Properties of Ices on Pluto and Other Bodies of the Outer Solar System." Pluto System After New Horizons 7033.

    Izenberg, N., P. Byrne, F. Calef, et al. D. Rothery, D. Pegg, and C. Ahrens. 2019. "Collisional Terminology For Cold Classical KBOs." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 50: 1248.

    Czaplinski, E., C. Ahrens, and V. Chevrier. 2019. "Comparative Morphologies Between Dune Slope Streaks and Recurring Slope Lineae on Mars." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 50: 1160.

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2018. "Spectral Characteristics of Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen, Methane Mixtures in Simulated Pluto Conditions." Experimental Analysis of the Outer Solar System Workshop 3006.

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2018. "Potential Mud Volcanism Type Processes on Pluto." Cryovolcanism in the Solar System Workshop 2003.

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2018. "Spectral Characteristics of Carbon Monoxide in Nitrogen and Methane Mixtures in Simulated Pluto Conditions." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 49: [2833]

    Czaplinski, E., C. Ahrens, B. Horgan, and V. Chevrier. 2017. "Dune Slipface Feature Morphologies and Their Relationship to Mineralogy." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 48: 2049.

    Knightly, J., C. Ahrens, and V. Chevrier. 2017. "Geomorphological Characteristics of a Low-Albedo Feature in Utopia Planitia, Mars." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 48: 2008.

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2017. "Investigating a Cryovolcanic Collapse Feature in Cthulhu Region, Pluto." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 48: 1351.

    Ahrens, C., and T. Titus. 2014. "An Assessment of the Reliability of Mineral Abundance Estimates Derived from TES Data over Dune Sites." Eighth International Conference on Mars 1012.

    Ahrens, C., and T. Titus. 2013. "Mineral Analysis of Martian Dunes: Sediment Composition of Martian Dune Fields Using the Thermal Emission Spectrometer." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 44: 2096.

    Talks, Presentations and Posters

    Invited

    Exploring the Flavors of Cryovolcanism

    6 / 14 / 2021

    Seminar: Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

    Geology and Geophysics of Pluto

    2 / 1 / 2021

    UC Santa Cruz Planetary Lunch Seminar Speaker (virtual)

    Shake, Rattle & Roll: Seismology of the Solar System

    1 / 15 / 2021

    Astronomical League Winter Star Party (virtual)

    in A World...A Hollywood View of Planets

    11 / 14 / 2020

    National Capital Area Skeptics (virtual speaker)

    Pluto: From the Lab to the Maps

    7 / 18 / 2019

    Howard Astronomical League, Maryland

    InOMN 2018

    10 / 20 / 2018

    Fayetteville Public Library

    Space Volcanoes!

    1 / 31 / 2018

    Fayetteville Public Library

    Green Bank Star Quest (regular speaker)

    2016

    Regular speaker and occasional keynote (2016-present)

    Other

    Ices in the Solar System (ESA/ESAC) Madrid, Spain

    1 / 2017

    Speaker and Session Chair

    Selected Public Outreach

    Sun, Moon, Starlore 11 / 2018 - 11 / 2018

    Museum of Native American History (MONAH), Bentonville, AR

    Meteorites of Arkansas and the World 9 / 2019 - 9 / 2019

    University of Arkansas Museum Invited Speaker

    Gardening in Space 1 / 2021 - 1 / 2021

    WV Master Gardeners Seminar Speaker

    NASA Solar System Ambassador Events 2017 - Present
    https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/ambassadors/1448/

    If you are interested in events I have been involved with through the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors Program

    Scratching the Surface (KUAF 91.3 FM) radio program 2018 - Present
    https://www.kuaf.com/programs/scratching-surface

    (Yes, I'm aware the website needs updating...)

    Brief Bio

    Caitlin Ahrens' research involves remote sensing of icy surfaces and volatile interactions, including permanently shadowed craters at the lunar poles, focusing on the composition, phases, and thermodynamics of ices. Dr. Ahrens' specific expertise focuses on modeling of thermal phases of ices, and applications to geomorphological/geophysical data on icy surfaces, including the compositions and rheology of cryovolcanism. Dr. Ahrens also works on a number of planetary volcanism projects, including lava flow morphology, caldera formation, and rheology, on Mars, Ceres, and Pluto. Dr. Ahrens is currently applying LRO Diviner data with a myriad of other remote sensing data to investigate the volatiles at the lunar surface.

    Dr. Ahrens received her B.S. in Physics/Astrophysics and Geology from West Virginia University in 2015, and a Ph.D. in Space and Planetary Science at the University of Arkansas in 2020.

    Dr. Ahrens is currently a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at the Goddard Space Flight Center, advised by Dr. Noah Petro. 

    Publications

    Refereed

    Ahrens, C., V. Cataldo, and G. Leone. 2021. "Volcanic eruptions on Mars and lava flow morphology and thermodynamics ." Mars: A Volcanic World (Accepted)

    Ahrens, C. 2021. "Petrologic evolution of Martian volcanism and clues from meteorites." Mars: A Volcanic World (Accepted)

    Ahrens, C. J., D. A. Paige, T. M. Eubanks, et al. W. P. Blase, K. E. Mesick, W. Zimmerman, N. Petro, P. O. Hayne, and S. Price. 2021. "Small Penetrator Instrument Concept for the Advancement of Lunar Surface Science." The Planetary Science Journal 2 (1): 38 [10.3847/psj/abda4f]

    Ahrens, C. 2020. "Modeling cryogenic mud volcanism on Pluto." Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 406 107070 [10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2020.107070]

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2020. "Investigation of the morphology and interpretation of Hekla Cavus, Pluto." Icarus 114108 [10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114108]

    Malaska, M. J., J. Radebaugh, R. M. Lopes, et al. K. L. Mitchell, T. Verlander, A. M. Schoenfeld, M. M. Florence, A. Le Gall, A. Solomonidou, A. G. Hayes, S. P. Birch, M. A. Janssen, L. Schurmeier, T. Cornet, C. Ahrens, and T. G. Farr. 2020. "Labyrinth terrain on Titan." Icarus 344 113764 [10.1016/j.icarus.2020.113764]

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2019. "Compressional Ridges on Baret Montes, Pluto as Observed by New Horizons." Geophysical Research Letters 46 (24): 14328-14335 [10.1029/2019gl085648]

    Sizemore, H. G., B. E. Schmidt, D. A. Buczkowski, et al. M. M. Sori, J. C. Castillo‐Rogez, D. C. Berman, C. Ahrens, H. T. Chilton, K. H. Hughson, K. Duarte, K. A. Otto, M. T. Bland, A. Neesemann, J. E. Scully, D. A. Crown, S. C. Mest, D. A. Williams, T. Platz, P. Schenk, M. E. Landis, S. Marchi, N. Schorghofer, L. C. Quick, T. H. Prettyman, M. C. De Sanctis, A. Nass, G. Thangjam, A. Nathues, C. T. Russell, and C. A. Raymond. 2019. "A Global Inventory of Ice‐Related Morphological Features on Dwarf Planet Ceres: Implications for the Evolution and Current State of the Cryosphere." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 2018JE005699 [10.1029/2018je005699]

    Ahrens, C. J., W. M. Grundy, K. E. Mandt, et al. P. D. Cooper, O. M. Umurhan, and V. F. Chevrier. 2018. "Recent Advancements and Motivations of Simulated Pluto Experiments." Space Science Reviews 214 (8): 130 [10.1007/s11214-018-0558-6]

    Charles, H., T. Titus, R. Hayward, C. Edwards, and C. Ahrens. 2017. "Comparison of the mineral composition of the sediment found in two Mars dunefields: Ogygis Undae and Gale crater – three distinct endmembers identified." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 458 152-160 [10.1016/j.epsl.2016.10.022]

    Non-Refereed

    Ahrens, C., M. E. Banks, and N. E. Petro. 2021. "The Spatial Relationship of Graben and Pit Craters at Rimae Daniell and the Implications of Scarp Formation." 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held virtually, 15-19 March, 2021. LPI Contribution No. 2548, id.1481

    Ahrens, C., N. E. Petro, and S. Li. 2021. "Preliminary Observations on the Relationship Between Fe-Signatures and PSR Locations at the Lunar South Pole." 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held virtually, 15-19 March, 2021. LPI Contribution No. 2548, id.1478

    Ahrens, C., N. E. Petro, and M. Siegler. 2020. "Preliminary Surface Thermal Flux Calculations Using LRO Diviner in Lunar Permanently Shadowed Craters." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 51 1949

    Maynard-Casely, H., C. Ahrens, H. Brand, and J. Hester. 2019. "Thinking outside the 'ice' box; grain size changes of solid nitrogen and its effects on the surface of Pluto." EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 EPSC-DPS2019-201

    Ahrens, C., P. Byrne, and V. Chevrier. 2019. "Characterizing Faults Across the Surface of Pluto." Pluto System After New Horizons 7036

    Ahrens, C., O. Umurhan, and V. Chevrier. 2019. "Overview of Thermal and Rheological Properties of Ices on Pluto and Other Bodies of the Outer Solar System." Pluto System After New Horizons 7033

    Izenberg, N., P. Byrne, F. Calef, et al. D. Rothery, D. Pegg, and C. Ahrens. 2019. "Collisional Terminology For Cold Classical KBOs." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 50 1248

    Czaplinski, E., C. Ahrens, and V. Chevrier. 2019. "Comparative Morphologies Between Dune Slope Streaks and Recurring Slope Lineae on Mars." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 50 1160

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2018. "Spectral Characteristics of Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen, Methane Mixtures in Simulated Pluto Conditions." Experimental Analysis of the Outer Solar System Workshop 3006

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2018. "Potential Mud Volcanism Type Processes on Pluto." Cryovolcanism in the Solar System Workshop 2003

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2018. "Spectral Characteristics of Carbon Monoxide in Nitrogen and Methane Mixtures in Simulated Pluto Conditions." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 49 [2833]

    Czaplinski, E., C. Ahrens, B. Horgan, and V. Chevrier. 2017. "Dune Slipface Feature Morphologies and Their Relationship to Mineralogy." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 48 2049

    Knightly, J., C. Ahrens, and V. Chevrier. 2017. "Geomorphological Characteristics of a Low-Albedo Feature in Utopia Planitia, Mars." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 48 2008

    Ahrens, C., and V. Chevrier. 2017. "Investigating a Cryovolcanic Collapse Feature in Cthulhu Region, Pluto." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 48 1351

    Ahrens, C., and T. Titus. 2014. "An Assessment of the Reliability of Mineral Abundance Estimates Derived from TES Data over Dune Sites." Eighth International Conference on Mars 1012

    Ahrens, C., and T. Titus. 2013. "Mineral Analysis of Martian Dunes: Sediment Composition of Martian Dune Fields Using the Thermal Emission Spectrometer." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 44 2096

                                                                                                                                                                                            
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