Planetary Geology, Geophys & Geochem Lab

Cherie N. Achilles


Cherie N. Achilles's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.6914
Org Code: 698
Mail Code 698
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Cherie Achilles is a mineralogist with a research focus in X-ray amorphous materials, clay mineralogy, and aqueous alteration and expertise in X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis techniques. Achilles is a collaborator with the CheMin XRD and SAM (Sample Analysis on Mars) instruments on the Mars Science Laboratory rover and is currently a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at Goddard Space Flight Center.


Ph.D. Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - 2018

B.S. Molecular & Cellular Biology and Microbiology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - 2008


NASA Postdoctoral Fellow

Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

June 2018 - Present

NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow

University of Arizona / Indiana University - Tucson, AZ / Bloomington, IN

September 2015 - May 2018

Graduate Student Research Assistant

Indiana University - Bloomington, IN

August 2013 - December 2015


UTC Aerospace Systems at NASA Johnson Space Center - Houston, TX

December 2008 - August 2013

Instrument Sequence Engineer, Phoenix Mars Mission

University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ

June 2008 - November 2008

Phoenix Mars Mission Undergraduate Intern; Surface Stereo Imager (SSI) Testing and Calibration Team

University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ

May 2006 - June 2008

Selected Publications


2020. "Evidence for Multiple Diagenetic Episodes in Ancient Fluvial‐Lacustrine Sedimentary Rocks in Gale Crater, Mars." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 125 (8): [10.1029/2019je006295] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Constraints on the Mineralogy and Geochemistry of the Vera Rubin ridge, Gale Crater, Mars, from Mars Science Laboratory Sample Analysis at Mars Evolved Gas Analyses." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets [Full Text] [10.1029/2019JE006309] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Mineralogy and geochemistry of sedimentary rocks and eolian sediments in Gale crater, Mars: A review after six Earth years of exploration with Curiosity." Geochemistry 80 (2): 125605 [10.1016/j.chemer.2020.125605] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Lipid Biomarkers in Ephemeral Acid Salt Lake Mudflat/Sandflat Sediments: Implications for Mars." Astrobiology 20 (2): 167-178 [10.1089/ast.2017.1812] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Water Abundance of Dunes in Gale Crater, Mars From Active Neutron Experiments and Implications for Amorphous Phases." Geophysical Research Letters 45 (23): [10.1029/2018gl079045] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Relationships between unit-cell parameters and composition for rock-forming minerals on Earth, Mars, and other extraterrestrial bodies." American Mineralogist 103 (6): 848-856 [10.2138/am-2018-6123] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Chemistry, mineralogy, and grain properties at Namib and High dunes, Bagnold dune field, Gale crater, Mars: A synthesis of Curiosity rover observations." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 122 (12): 2510-2543 [10.1002/2017je005267] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Mineralogy of an active eolian sediment from the Namib dune, Gale crater, Mars." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 122 (11): 2344-2361 [10.1002/2017je005262] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Mineralogy of an ancient lacustrine mudstone succession from the Murray formation, Gale crater, Mars." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 471 172-185 [10.1016/j.epsl.2017.04.021] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Silicic volcanism on Mars evidenced by tridymite in high-SiO2 sedimentary rock at Gale crater." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113 (26): 7071-7076 [10.1073/pnas.1607098113] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "The origin and implications of clay minerals from Yellowknife Bay, Gale crater, Mars." American Mineralogist 100 (4): 824-836 [10.2138/am-2015-5077ccbyncnd] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Mineralogy of a Mudstone at Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars." Science 343 (6169): 1243480-1243480 [10.1126/science.1243480] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "X-ray Diffraction Results from Mars Science Laboratory: Mineralogy of Rocknest at Gale Crater." Science 341 (6153): 1238932-1238932 [10.1126/science.1238932] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Curiosity at Gale Crater, Mars: Characterization and Analysis of the Rocknest Sand Shadow." Science 341 (6153): 1239505-1239505 [10.1126/science.1239505] [Journal Article/Letter]

Professional Service

  • Clay Mineral Society - Program Development Committee - 2020-present
  • Reviewer of scientific manuscripts in multiple peer-reviewed journals


Educational Development

  • Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internship - Space Studies Board, National Academies of Sciences, Washington, DC
  • National School on Neutron & X-ray Scattering - Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago, IL & Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
  • Neutron Scattering School - Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM


  • NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF)
  • Arizona Space Grant Undergraduate Intern


  • Best Presentation - Mineralogy - Department of Geosciences GeoDaze Student Conference – April 2017
  • Best Presentation – Geochemistry - Department of Geosciences GeoDaze Student Conference – April 2016
  • Indiana University Department of Geological Sciences Citizenship Award - Annual graduate student award – May 2015
  • NASA Group Achievement Award to the MSL CheMin Development and Science Team - July 2013
  • Engineering and Science Contract Group (ESCG) On-The-Spot Award - For assisting to facilitate EEAB webinar events highlighting the MSL mission on Mars – Feb. 2013
  • ESCG Certificate of Recognition - For support as a volunteer in helping engage the public in NASA’s mission – Nov. 2012       
  • ESCG Quarterly Team Award - Exceptional achievement as a member of the Cosmic Dust Catalog Team – May 2012
  • NASA Group Achievement Award to the Phoenix Development and Mission Team – June 2009
  • NASA Group Achievement Award to the Phoenix Project Payload Team – June 2009