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Darlene Lim

FINESSE Deputy Principal Investigator

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

MSc (Geobiology), University of Toronto, Canada

BScH (Biology), Queen's University, Canada

FINESSE Research Objectives

On a day-to-day basis, Darlene’s focus is on creating a safe, collegial environment that enables each FINESSE team member to accomplish his or her research objectives. Plus, she’s super keen to leverage the scientific foundation of FINESSE for the purposes of identifying best practices for human scientific exploration on Earth and beyond. 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 the Deputy PI of the NASA SSERVI ‘Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration’ (FINESSE) research program, and the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP). Both programs are focused on real (non-simulated) science and exploration activities that seamlessly blend 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 nearly 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: the 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, and the Mojave Volatiles Prospector (MVP) field program (2013-2014).

Darlene has served on a number of NASA MEPAG (Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group) committees and is currently the MEPAG Goal IV (Prepare for Human Exploration) Co-Chair.  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.

Upcoming Activities

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SSERVI / Exploration Science Forum
July 2016
The Exploration Science Forum brings together the Science and Exploration communities to discuss current research regardin the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids, and Phobos & Deimos.
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Third International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos & Deimos
July 2016
The Third International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos, subtitled The Science, Robotic Reconnaissance, and Human Exploration of the Two Moons of Mars, will be the third international meeting focused on Phobos and Deimos, and on how their exploration relates to that of other small bodies, Mars, and the rest of the Solar System.

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Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (COTM), Idaho, USA

Prime FINESSE COTM field deployment:
Summer 2016


International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN)

October 8, 2016
InOMN is a world-wide outreach event to encourage people to observe and learn about our nearest celestial neighbor, the Moon. The InOMN website can be found here.
Division of Planetary Sciences
October 16-21, 2016
The Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) annual meeting will be held in Pasadena, CA.  This meeting brings together researchers studying planetary objects to present and discuss cutting-edge planetary science.
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American Geophysical Union
December 12-16, 2016
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting is one of the most prestigious Earth and space sciences meeting worldwide.  AGU is held each December in San Francisco, CA.

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