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Barbara Cohen

Sample analysis, robotic mission operations, human mission science planning
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
PhD in Planetary Science, 2000, University of Arizona
BS in Geology, 1993, State University of New York at Stony Brook

FINESSE Research Objectives

Field studies of impact and volcanic settings; developing tools and recommendations for future human exploration.


I lead the planetary science team at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. My scientific research focuses on geochronology and geochemistry of planetary samples from the Moon, Mars and asteroids. I am a Principal Investigator on multiple NASA research projects, a member of the Mars Exploration Rover mission team still operating the Opportunity rover, and the principal scientist for Lunar Flashlight, a lunar cubesat mission that will be launched in 2017 as an SLS secondary payload. I am the PI for the MSFC Noble Gas Research Laboratory (MNGRL), where we use radiometric dating to understand the age of meteorites and lunar rocks and connect them with the impact history of our solar system. I am developing a flight version our noble-gas geochronology technique, the Potassium-Argon Laser Experiment (KArLE), for use on future planetary landers and rovers. I am a strong advocate for the role of sample analysis in human and robotic exploration, so am pleased to have been a member of three Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) seasons, helping recover and return pristine planetary samples for the US National collection. I also serve multiple roles within NASA representing science interests and capabilities within human spaceflight planning. In particular, I have participated in science backroom operations and led tactical and strategic teams, including an international science backroom with the European Space Agency in the Netherlands, for NASA’s Research and Technology Studies (Desert-RATS) and Moon-Mars Analog Mission Activities teams.

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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