Planetary Magnetospheres Laboratory

Brief Bio

Purucker's interests focus on the role of magnetic fields as fingerprints of processes in planetary lithospheres. Those processes include heat flux, tectonics, insolation, subduction, rheology, basin development, and internal-external field interactions. He has worked on in-situ and remotely sensed magnetic field observations from the Earth, Mars, Mercury, and the Moon. In his work for NASA, he has been involved in planetary, and terrestrial orbital and suborbital missions and proposals that focus on mapping the magnetic field, and complementary properties. He produced the first global magnetic model of the Moon (Purucker and Nicholas, 2010, Journal of Geophysical Research) and Mars (Purucker et al., 2001, Geophysical Research Letters) and was one of the leaders in the first World Digital Magnetic anomaly Map of the Earth (Purucker, 2007). He is currently a scientist in the Planetary Magnetospheres Lab at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Current Projects

Swarm Co-Investigator


I have assisted in the conception and development stages, and post-launch as a CoI, on this Earth-orbiting constellation mission to map and decipher the Earth's magnetic fields since its conception in 2000, through its selection by ESA in 2004, and its launch and ongoing operation. We hope that it yields science through the early 2030s.



Science Co-I on this planned multi-point continuation of MAVEN, with a focus on disentangling magnetic gradients of internal (within the planet) or external origin.



Planetary Magnetospheres Lab, Solar System Exploration Division, NASA - Goddard Space Flight Center

August 2022 - Present

Associate Chief, Planetary Magnetospheres Lab

NASA - Goddard Space Flight Center

June 2021 - August 2022

Serving as Deputy to Jared Espley

Planetary Magnetosphere Lab chief

Solar System Exploration Division, NASA - Goddard Space Flight Center

April 2015 - June 2021

Visiting Scientist

GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Wissenschaftpark "Albert Einstein", Telegrafenberg - Potsdam, Germany

March 2003 - June 2014

With the agreement and support of NASA, I spent 1-2 mos/year in residence at GFZ-Potsdam supporting European space missions (Orsted, SAC-C, CHAMP & Swarm) that measure the geomagnetic field, and associated properties.

Chief Scientist, Deputy Chief Scientist

SGT Inc. - Planetary Geodynamics Lab, Goddard Space Flight Center

May 1986 - April 2015

Chief Geologist

Phoenix Corp. - McLean, VA

March 1984 - November 1985


US Geological Survey - Flagstaff, AZ and Alaska

September 1976 - August 1981

Teaching Experience

Invited Professor, Geodynamo laboratory, ISTerre, Univ. de Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France, Fall, 2012.

Visiting Professor, Global COE (Center of Excellence) Program, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan, Spring, 2011

Invited Professor (1st Class), Laboratoire de Planetologie et Geodynamique, Univ. de Nantes, Nantes, France,2005, 2008, 2009; Visiting scientist 2010, 2011

Invited Professor (2nd class), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Laboratoire de geomagnetisme, Paris, France.Summers of 2000 and 2001.


1976 - BS (Geophysics), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
1976 - MS (Planetary Science) California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
1984 - Ph.D (Geology) Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Professional Service

Geological Society of Washington: Meeting Secretary, 2024; Program Chair, 2023; Webmaster & Social Media lead, 2021-2023; President-elect, 2018; President, 2019; Councilor, 2012-2013.

Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism (GP) section secretary, American Geophysical Union, 2003-2004

Member of the US National committee for Geodesy and Geophysics. Promotes the advancement of geophysical and geodetical sciences in the US and throughout the world by participating in the activities of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. 2011-2015

Executive committee, World Digital Magnetic Anomaly Map, 2005-2018; Vice-Chair, 2007-2013

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union

1972 - Present

Geological Society of Washington

1986 - Present


NASA Group Achievement Award to MESSENGER Project Team, 2017

NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award for Comprehensive Magnetic Field Modeling, 2009

NASA Group Achievement Award to MESSENGER Mission team, 2008

Green Prize for "Outstanding Ability and Achievement in the field of creative scholarship", California Institute of Technology, 1976

Other Professional Information

Advisor for a Ph.D. student (Cathrine Fox Maule) from Copenhagen University, Dept. of Physics, 2003-2005

Advisor for a Ph.D. student (Benoit Langlais) from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (1999-2001)

Service on a panel evaluating the U.S. Geological Survey program in geomagnetism, 2004-2005.

Service on professional assessment committees for the Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark and the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism.

Service on a Ph.D. thesis committee of Universite de Nantes, Nantes, France. I served as the Rapporteur on a thesis by J. Olivera entitled ‘The magnetic field of Mercury as measured by the MESSENGER spacecraft, Apr 2015
Service on a habilitation committee of the IPG-Paris for the HDR of Erwan Thebault.2014.

Service on a Ph.D. thesis committee of the Universite de Nantes, Nantes, France. I served as the Rapporteur on a thesis by Y. Quesnel entitled ‘Interpretation des donnees magnetiques martiennes: Contraintes sur l’evolution primitive de Mars’, Nov, 2006

Service on a Ph.D. thesis committee of University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. (Jon Turner, ‘Signal processing of satellite magnetic data’, May, 2003).

Service on a Ph.D. thesis committee of the Institut de Physique du Globe, Paris, France. I served as the Rapporteur on a thesis by B. Langlais entitled ‘Les Champs magnetiques de la Terre et de Mars: Apport des satellites Orsted et Mars Global Surveyor’, Oct, 2001.

Service on a Ph.D. thesis committtee of the Universite de Bretagne Occidentale, France. I served as the Rapporteur or external examiner on a thesis by N. Grammatica entitled ‘Induction electromagnetique globale dans une Terre heterogene: etudes a partir de donnees d’observatoires et de donnees du satellite MAGSAT’. Sept, 2000.

Advisor for a M.S. student (David Lowe) at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, 1998-2000.

Selected Publications


Wieczorek, M. A., B. P. Weiss, D. Breuer, et al. M. E. Purucker, D. Cebron, M. Fuller, I. Garrick-Bethell, J. Gattacceca, J. S. Halekas, D. J. Hemingway, L. L. Hood, M. Laneuville, F. Nimmo, R. Oran, T. Ruckriemen, K. M. Soderlund, and S. M. Tikoo. 2023. Lunar Magnetism Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry 89 (5): 207-241 [10.2138/rmg.2023.89.05]

Sibeck, D. G., K. R. Murphy, F. S. Porter, et al. H. K. Connor, B. M. Walsh, K. D. Kuntz, E. Zesta, P. Valek, C. L. Baker, J. Goldstein, H. Frey, S.-Y. Hsieh, P. C. Brandt, R. Gomez, G. A. DiBraccio, S. Kameda, V. Dwivedi, M. E. Purucker, M. Shoemaker, S. M. Petrinec, H. Aryan, R. T. Desai, M. G. Henderson, G. Cucho-Padin, and W. D. Cramer. 2023. Quantifying the global solar wind-magnetosphere interaction with the Solar-Terrestrial Observer for the Response of the Magnetosphere (STORM) mission concept Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 10 [10.3389/fspas.2023.1138616]

Olsen, N., D. Ravat, and M. E. Purucker. 2023. On the determination and interpretation of the lithospheric induced magnetization Earth and Planetary Science Letters

Le, G., D. J. Knipp, L. Rastätter, et al. G. Lu, D. S. Ozturk, J. A. Slavin, A. Maute, J. Klenzing, S. Zou, J. R. Espley, M. Purucker, M. Akhavan-Tafti, G. K. Poh, and Z. Wang. 2022. Next generation magnetic field measurements from low-earth orbit satellites enable enhanced space weather operations Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 9 [10.3389/fspas.2022.1076892]

Ravat, D., M. E. Purucker, and N. Olsen. 2020. Lunar Magnetic Field Models From Lunar Prospector and SELENE/Kaguya Along‐Track Magnetic Field Gradients Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 125 (7): [10.1029/2019je006187]

Langlais, B., E. Thébault, A. Houliez, M. Purucker, and R. Lillis. 2019. A New Model of the Crustal Magnetic Field of Mars Using MGS and MAVEN Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 2018JE005854 [10.1029/2018je005854]

Kane, T. J., P. D. Hillman, C. A. Denman, et al. M. Hart, R. Phillip Scott, M. E. Purucker, and S. J. Potashnik. 2018. Laser Remote Magnetometry Using Mesospheric Sodium Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics [10.1029/2018ja025178]

Sibeck, D. G., R. Allen, H. Aryan, et al. D. Bodewits, P. Brandt, G. Branduardi-Raymont, G. Brown, J. A. Carter, Y. M. Collado-Vega, M. R. Collier, H. K. Connor, T. E. Cravens, Y. Ezoe, M.-C. Fok, M. Galeazzi, O. Gutynska, M. Holmström, S.-Y. Hsieh, K. Ishikawa, D. Koutroumpa, K. D. Kuntz, M. Leutenegger, Y. Miyoshi, F. S. Porter, M. E. Purucker, A. M. Read, J. Raeder, I. P. Robertson, A. A. Samsonov, S. Sembay, S. L. Snowden, N. E. Thomas, R. von Steiger, B. M. Walsh, and S. Wing. 2018. Imaging Plasma Density Structures in the Soft X-Rays Generated by Solar Wind Charge Exchange with Neutrals Space Science Reviews 214 (4): 79 [10.1007/s11214-018-0504-7]

McEnroe, S. A., P. Robinson, N. Church, and M. Purucker. 2018. Magnetism at Depth: A View from an Ancient Continental Subduction and Collision Zone Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 19 (4): 1123-1147 [10.1002/2017gc007344]

Mandea, M., and M. Purucker. 2017. The Varying Core Magnetic Field from a Space Weather Perspective Space Science Reviews 214 (1): 11 [10.1007/s11214-017-0443-8]

Catalán, M., J. Dyment, Y. Choi, et al. M. Hamoudi, V. Lesur, E. Thébault, A. de Santis, T. Ishihara, J. Korhonen, T. Litvinova, J. Luis, B. Meyer, P. Milligan, M. Nakanishi, S. Okuma, M. Pilkington, M. Purucker, D. Ravat, C. Gaina, S. Maus, Y. Quesnel, R. Saltus, and P. Taylor. 2016. Making a Better Magnetic Map Eos 97 [10.1029/2016eo054645]

Johnson, C. L., R. J. Phillips, M. E. Purucker, et al. B. J. Anderson, P. K. Byrne, B. W. Denevi, J. M. Feinberg, S. A. Hauck, J. W. Head, H. Korth, P. B. James, E. Mazarico, G. A. Neumann, L. C. Philpott, M. A. Siegler, N. A. Tsyganenko, and S. C. Solomon. 2015. Low-altitude magnetic field measurements by MESSENGER reveal Mercury's ancient crustal field Science 348 (6237): 892-895 [10.1126/science.aaa8720]

Purucker, M., and K. Whaler. 2015. Crustal Magnetism Treatise on Geophysics 185-218 [10.1016/b978-0-444-53802-4.00100-7]

Johnson, C. L., M. E. Purucker, H. Korth, et al. B. J. Anderson, R. M. Winslow, M. M. Al Asad, J. A. Slavin, I. I. Alexeev, R. J. Phillips, M. T. Zuber, and S. C. Solomon. 2012. MESSENGER observations of Mercury's magnetic field structure Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 117 (E12): [10.1029/2012je004217]

Purucker, M. E., J. W. Head, and L. Wilson. 2012. Magnetic signature of the lunar South Pole-Aitken basin: Character, origin, and age Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 117 (E5): [10.1029/2011je003922]

Blewett, D., B. Denevi, M. Robinson, et al. C. Ernst, M. E. Purucker, and S. Solomon. 2011. The apparent lack of lunar-like swirls on Mercury: Implications for the formation of lunar swirls and for the agent of space weathering Icarus 209 (1): 239-246

Purucker, M. E., and J. B. Nicholas. 2010. Global spherical harmonic models of the internal magnetic field of the Moon based on sequential and coestimation approaches Journal of Geophysical Research 115 E12007 [10.1029/2010JE003650]

Thebault, E., M. E. Purucker, K. A. Whaler, B. Langlais, and T. J. Sabaka. 2010. The magnetic field of the Earth's lithosphere Space Science Reviews 155 (1-4): 95-127 [10.1007/s11214-010-9667-6]

Lillis, R., M. E. Purucker, J. Halekas, et al. K. Louzada, S. A. Stewart, M. Manga, and H. V. Frey. 2010. Study of impact demagnetization at Mars using Monte Carlo modeling and multiple altitude data Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets 115 (E7): E07007 [10.1029/2009JE003556]

Langlais, B., V. Lesur, M. E. Purucker, J. E. Connerney, and M. Mandea. 2010. Crustal Magnetic Fields of Terrestrial Planets Space Science Reviews 152 (1-4): 223-249

Halekas, J., R. Lillis, R. Lin, et al. M. Manga, M. E. Purucker, and R. Carley. 2010. How strong are lunar crustal magnetic fields at the surface?: Considerations from a reexamination of the electron reflectometry technique Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets 115 [10.1029/2009JE003516]

Anderson, B., M. Acuna, H. Korth, et al. J. A. Slavin, H. Uno, C. Johnson, M. E. Purucker, S. Solomon, J. Raines, T. Zurbuchen, G. Gloeckler, and R. McNutt. 2010. The Magnetic Field of Mercury Space Science Reviews 152 (1-4): 307-339

Pankine, A., Z. Li, D. Parsons, et al. M. E. Purucker, E. Weinstock, W. Wiscombe, and K. Nock. 2009. STRATOSPHERIC SATELLITES FOR EARTH OBSERVATIONS Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 90 (8): 1109-+

Purucker, M., T. Sabaka, G. Le, et al. J. A. Slavin, R. J. Strangeway, and C. Busby. 2007. Magnetic field gradients from the ST-5 constellation: Improving magnetic and thermal models of the lithosphere Geophys Res. Lett 34 (24): L24306 [10.1029/2007GL031739]

Nicholas, J. B., M. E. Purucker, and T. J. Sabaka. 2007. Age spot or youthful marking: Origin of Reiner Gamma Geophysical Research Letters 34 (2): L02205 [10.1029/2006gl027794]

Purucker, M. 2007. Magnetic Anomaly map of the World EOS Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 88 (25): 263

Olsen, N., R. Haagmans, T. J. Sabaka, et al. A. Kuvshinov, S. Maus, M. E. Purucker, M. Rother, V. Lesur, and M. Mandea. 2006. The Swarm End-to-End mission simulator study: A demonstration of separating the various contributions to Earth’s magnetic field using synthetic data Earth, Planets and Space 58 (4): 359-370 [10.1186/bf03351934]

Purucker, M., and T. Ishihara. 2005. Magnetic images of the Sumatran region crust EOS Transactions of the American Geohysical Union 86 (10): 101-102

Fox Maule, C., M. Purucker, K. Olsen, and K. Olsen. 2005. Heat flux anomalies in Antarctica revealed by magnetic data Science 309 464-467

Sabaka, T. J., N. Olsen, and M. E. Purucker. 2004. Extending comprehensive models of the Earth's magnetic field with Ørsted and CHAMP data Geophysical Journal International 159 (2): 521-547 [10.1111/j.1365-246x.2004.02421.x]

Ravat, D., K. A. Whaler, M. Pilkington, T. Sabaka, and M. Purucker. 2002. Compatibility of high-altitude aeromagnetic and satellite-altitude magnetic anomalies over Canada GEOPHYSICS 67 (2): 546-554 [10.1190/1.1468615]

Purucker, M., B. Langlais, N. Olsen, G. Hulot, and M. Mandea. 2002. The southern edge of cratonic North America: Evidence from new satellite magnetometer observations GeophysResLett 29 (15): 8000 [10.1029/2001GL013645]

Olsen, N., R. Holme, G. Hulot, et al. T. Sabaka, T. Neubert, L. Tøffner-Clausen, F. Primdahl, J. Jørgensen, J.-M. Léger, D. Barraclough, J. Bloxham, J. Cain, C. Constable, V. Golovkov, A. Jackson, P. Kotzé, B. Langlais, S. Macmillan, M. Mandea, J. Merayo, L. Newitt, M. Purucker, T. Risbo, M. Stampe, A. Thomson, and C. Voorhies. 2000. Ørsted Initial Field Model Geophysical Research Letters 27 (22): 3607-3610 [10.1029/2000gl011930]

Purucker, M., D. Ravat, H. Frey, et al. C. Voorhies, T. Sabaka, and M. Acuna. 2000. An altitude-normalized magnetic map of Mars and its interpretation Geophys. Res. Lett. 27 (16): 2449-2452 [10.1029/2000GL000072]

Purucker, M. E., R. R. von Frese, and P. T. Taylor. 1999. Mapping and interpretation of satellite magnetic anomalies from POGO data over the Antarctic region Annali di Geofisica 42 (2): 215-227

Purucker, M., R. Langel, M. Rajaram, and C. Raymond. 1998. Global magnetization models with a priori information Journal of Geophysical Research 103 2563-2584

Purucker, M. E., T. J. Sabaka, R. A. Langel, and N. Olsen. 1997. The missing dimension in Magsat and POGO anomaly studies Geophysical Research Letters 24 (22): 2909-2912 [10.1029/97gl52978]

Purucker, M., T. Sabaka, and R. Langel. 1996. Conjugate Gradient Analysis: A New Tool For Studying Satellite Magnetic Data Sets Geophysical Research Letters 23 (5): 507-510 [10.1029/96GL00388]

Purucker, M., D. Elston, and E. M. Shoemaker. 1980. Early Acquisition of Characteristic Magnetization In Red Beds of the Moenkopi Formation (Triassic), Gray Mountain, Arizona Journal of Geophysical Research 85 997 -1012


Purucker, M. E. 2011. Mapping and interpretation of the lithospheric magnetic field Springer 5 311-338 [10.1007/978-90-481-9858-0_13]