Darlene Lim

Principal Investigator (PI)

Expertise: Geobiology, Science Operations
Affiliation: Bay Area Environmental Research Institute/NASA Ames Research Center
Certification/Education: PhD (Geobiology), University of Toronto, Canada

MSc (Geobiology), University of Toronto, Canada

BScH (Biology), Queen's University, Canada

BASALT Research Objectives

Darlene’s focus is on creating a safe, collegial environment that enables each BASALT team member to accomplish his or her research objectives. Darlene is really excited to leverage the scientific foundation of BASALT for the purposes of identifying best practices for human scientific exploration on Earth and Mars. Within her lifetime, Darlene would love to see humans permanently extend their presence beyond Low Earth Orbit. Her goal is to help generate operational know-how that will facilitate science and exploration throughout this voyage.


Darlene Lim is a geobiologist based at the NASA Ames Research Center, and actively involved in the development of operational concepts for human scientific exploration of our solar system.  She is currently also the Principal Investigator (PI) of SUBSEA (Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog), Deputy PI of the NASA SSERVI ‘Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration’ (FINESSE) research program, and the PI of the Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP). Her research programs are focused on seamlessly blending field science research with the development of human exploration tools, technologies and concepts that serve to directly inform various NASA Design Reference Missions.

Darlene has spent over 20 years leading field research programs around the world. She has conducted research in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and in various underwater environments where she has spent hours piloting submersibles as a scientist and explorer. Her field experience has included numerous NASA field programs such as: NASA FINESSE deployments to Craters of the Moon, Idaho and West Clearwater Impact Structure, Quebec, Canada (2014); NASA Pavilion Lake Research Project deployments to Pavilion, Kelly and other lakes, B.C., Canada (2004-present); NASA Mojave Volatiles Prospector (MVP) field program, Mojave, USA (2013-14); Lago Sarmiento National Geographic Expedition (2006); the NASA Haughton Mars Project (HMP) (2000-2008) in the Canadian High Arctic, the 2010 International Lunar Surface Operation (ILSO)-In-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) analog field test in Hawaii (a joint NASA-CSA program focused on lunar ISRU system integration and hardware testing), the 2011 (N15) and 2012 (N16) NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) programs in Florida, the 2012 ISRU- Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatiles Extraction (RESOLVE) field test. She has also spent over 10 field seasons in the Canadian Arctic conducting limnological studies on the effects of climate change on freshwater systems.

Darlene has served on a number of NASA MEPAG (Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group) committees and including as the MEPAG Goal IV (Prepare for Human Exploration) Co-Chair (2009-2015).  She is a member of the NOAA Ocean Exploration Advisory Board (OEAB) (2015-2019). She is also the Founder of the Haven House Family Shelter STEM Explorers’ Speakers Series, which enables researchers to teach science and engineering subjects to homeless children in the San Francisco Bay Area.