Solar System Exploration Division

Christopher K Materese

(Research AST, Planetary Studies)

Christopher K Materese's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.286.7502
Org Code: 691
Mail Code 691.1
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Missions & Projects


Research Scientist

NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center - Greenbelt, MD

July 2018 - Present

Research Scientist

BAER Institute/NASA Ames Research Center - Moffett Field, CA

June 2015 - July 2018

NASA Postdoctoral Fellow

Oak Ridge Associated Universities/NASA Ames Research Center - Moffett Field, CA

June 2012 - May 2015

Research Associate

SETI Institute/NASA Ames Research Center - Moffett Field, CA

June 2010 - May 2012

Graduate Student Researcher

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Chapel Hill, NC

June 2005 - May 2010


2010 - Ph.D. (Physical Chemistry) The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dissertation "Using atomistic simulations to uncover microscopic details of nucleosomal electrostatics, energy landscapes of proteins and photovoltaic polymer dynamics."

2005 - B.S. (Chemistry) The Pennsylvania State University

Professional Service

Manuscript reviewer for professional journals including the Astrophysical JournalAstronomy & AstrophysicsAccounts of Chemical Research, ACS Earth and Space Chemistry, Nature Communications, Science Advances, and Astrobiology.

Regular proposal reviewer for funding programs at NASA


Quantifying the Radiolytic Stability of Aromatic Nitrogen Heterocycles 

Astrophysics Research and Analysis 2021 - NASA - Awarded: 2022-05-14

Assessing Parent Body Processing of Amino Acids from Ice Radiation Experiments 

Emerging Worlds 2019 - NASA - Awarded: 2019-11-04

Rates of Radiation Induced Deuterium/Hydrogen Exchange in Organic Molecules Embedded in Water Ice: Evaluating the Importance of Ice Radiation Chemistry in Observed Isotopic Ratios. 

Solar System Workings 2018 - NASA - Awarded: 2019-09-27

Talks, Presentations and Posters


Formation and destruction of nucleobases in ices

July 2020

American Vacuum Society Seminar Series hosted by the University of Central Florida (oral presentation)

Could polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with excess peripheral H atoms (Hn-PAHs) be responsible for anomalous 3.4 micron emission bands in protoplanetary nebulae?


SOFIA Community tele-talk series (oral presentation)


The Radiolytic Stability of Thymine in Water Ice

November 2020

Division for Planetary Science (2020) virtual conference (e-poster)

The Stability of Nucleobases Against Radiolytic Destruction in Water Ice

July 2019

Astrobiology Science Conference, Seattle, Wa. (poster)

Laboratory Studies of the Radiolytic Destruction of Nucleobases in Icy Environments

May 2019

IAU 350, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK (poster)



2023. "Meteorite Parent Body Aqueous Alteration Simulations of Interstellar Residue Analogs." ACS Earth and Space Chemistry 7 (1): 156-167 [Full Text] [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.2c00274] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Radiation-induced D-to-H Exchange in Ices Containing Ethane or Benzene: Reactions and Rate Constants." The Astrophysical Journal 941 (1): 94 [10.3847/1538-4357/ac9d3a] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Radiation-induced D/H Exchange Rate Constants in Aliphatics Embedded in Water Ice." The Astrophysical Journal 929 (2): 7 [10.3847/1538-4357/ac602b] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "The Titan Haze Simulation (THS) experiment on COSmIC. Part III. XANES study of laboratory analogs of Titan tholins." Icarus 376 114841 [10.1016/j.icarus.2021.114841] [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]

2020. "The Production and Potential Detection of Hexamethylenetetramine-Methanol in Space." Astrobiology 20 (5): 601-616 [10.1089/ast.2019.2147] [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]

2019. "Outgassing from the OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Capsule: Characterization and Mitigation." Acta Astronautica 166 391-399 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.actaastro.2019.07.043] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Prebiotic Chemistry of Pluto." Astrobiology 19 (7): 831-848 [10.1089/ast.2018.1927] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "The Photochemistry of Purine in Ice Analogs Relevant to Dense Interstellar Clouds." The Astrophysical Journal 864 (1): 44 [10.3847/1538-4357/aad328] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "The Detection of 6.9 μm Emission Features in the Infrared Spectra of IRAS 04296+3429, IRAS 05341+0852, and IRAS 22272+5435: Evidence for the Presence of Hn-PAHs in Post-AGB Stars." The Astrophysical Journal 850 (2): 165 [10.3847/1538-4357/aa960d] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "The Formation of Nucleobases from the Ultraviolet Photoirradiation of Purine in Simple Astrophysical Ice Analogues." Astrobiology 17 (8): 761-770 [10.1089/ast.2016.1613] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Mechanisms for the formation of thymine under astrophysical conditions and implications for the origin of life." The Journal of Chemical Physics 144 (14): 144308 [10.1063/1.4945745] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "ICE CHEMISTRY ON OUTER SOLAR SYSTEM BODIES: ELECTRON RADIOLYSIS OF N2-, CH4-, AND CO-CONTAINING ICES." The Astrophysical Journal 812 (2): 150 [10.1088/0004-637x/812/2/150] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "N- ANDO-HETEROCYCLES PRODUCED FROM THE IRRADIATION OF BENZENE AND NAPHTHALENE IN H2O/NH3-CONTAINING ICES." The Astrophysical Journal 800 (2): 116 [10.1088/0004-637x/800/2/116] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "THE PHOTOCHEMISTRY OF PYRIMIDINE IN REALISTIC ASTROPHYSICAL ICES AND THE PRODUCTION OF NUCLEOBASES." The Astrophysical Journal 793 (2): 125 [10.1088/0004-637x/793/2/125] [Journal Article/Letter]


2014. "Photosynthesis and Photo-Stability of Nucleic Acids in Prebiotic Extraterrestrial Environments." Topics in Current Chemistry 123-164 [10.1007/128_2013_499] [Article in Book]

2013. "Thymine and Other Prebiotic Molecules Produced from the Ultraviolet Photo-Irradiation of Pyrimidine in Simple Astrophysical Ice Analogs." Astrobiology 13 (10): 948-962 [10.1089/ast.2013.1044] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "THE INFRARED SPECTRA OF POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS WITH EXCESS PERIPHERAL H ATOMS (Hn-PAHs) AND THEIR RELATION TO THE 3.4 AND 6.9 μm PAH EMISSION FEATURES." The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 205 (1): 8 [10.1088/0067-0049/205/1/8] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Tunable Energy Transfer Rates via Control of Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Structure of a Coiled Coil Peptide Scaffold." Inorganic Chemistry 51 (21): 11324-11338 [10.1021/ic300669t] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Is DNA’s Rigidity Dominated by Electrostatic or Nonelectrostatic Interactions?." J. Am. Chem. Soc. 133 (48): 19290-19293 [10.1021/ja207984z] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Counterion Atmosphere and Hydration Patterns near a Nucleosome Core Particle." Journal of the American Chemical Society 131 (41): 15005-15013 [10.1021/ja905376q] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "Deconstructing the Native State: Energy Landscapes, Function, and Dynamics of Globular Proteins." The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 113 (26): 8800-8812 [10.1021/jp810659u] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Hierarchical organization of eglin c native state dynamics is shaped by competing direct and water-mediated interactions." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (31): 10659-10664 [10.1073/pnas.0801850105] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "The neurotoxin 2′-NH2-MPTP degenerates serotonin axons and evokes increases in hippocampal BDNF." Neuropharmacology 50 (3): 297-308 [10.1016/j.neuropharm.2005.09.006] [Journal Article/Letter]