Center for Earth and Planetary Studies Research Geologist

Dr. Jennifer (Jenny) Whitten is a Geologist in the Museum's Center for Earth and Planetary Studies. Jenny’s research spans the solar system and focuses on processes that generate and modify planetary crusts. She combines a variety of space-based and ground-based data types (radar, visible imagery, visible-near infrared spectroscopy, topography). Most of her work has focused on rocky planetary bodies, though she has worked on icy bodies as well. 

Many of Jenny’s recent research features radar data, including studies of the icy polar deposits on Mars and ancient terrain on Venus. Currently she is investigating how radar signals propagate through the polar ice caps on Mars, both at the north and south poles. These behaviors can reveal information about the climate history of Mars and how that record has been preserved in the ice. These studies have implications for studies of ice behaviors across the solar system, including the icy moons of the outer solar system. On Venus, Jenny is studying the most ancient material preserved on the surface of the planet, known as tesserae. She is working to understand their diversity, which can help to unravel their formation and modification history that has important implications for the role of water on Venus in its past.

Jenny is involved in several planetary science instrument and mission teams. Shar participated on the SHARAD instrument team aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is still in flight. Upcoming missions and instruments that have yet to launch include the VERITAS mission to Venus and the VenSAR instrument on the EnVision mission. Jenny is the Associate Deputy Principle Investigator for the VERITAS mission, meaning that she is part of the mission leadership, as well as being a science team member.

Jenny holds her B.S. in Geology, magna cum laude, from the College of William and Mary (VA) in 2009. She subsequently obtained her M.Sc. in 2011 from Brown University in Geological Sciences, with a focus in planetary science, and her PhD in 2014. Her dissertation research focused on ancient volcanism on the Moon and Mercury, and incorporated results from the MESSENGER mission to Mercury and the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument aboard the Chandrayaan-1 mission.

Contact Information (202) 633-2480 Related Links Jennifer Whitten CV [PDF Download]
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