Sanjoy Som

Sanjoy Som

Professional Biography:

Welcome! As an astrobiologist, my research broadly investigates how the rock record can preserve properties of an ancient atmosphere, and how the rocks can create or contribute to an atmosphere; a discipline I like to call "Atmospheric Geology". Atmospheric gases and/or gases released in water-rock reactions are fundamental in metabolic processes, and so I enjoy thinking about the role life has in modulating the concentration of gases (atmospheric or not), and how the concentration of those gases modulate biological "lifestyle" (survival, maintenance, growth). As examples, I investigate how ancient raindrop craters can record atmospheric density, how gas bubbles trapped as amygdales in ancient lava flows can record atmospheric pressure, and how channel morphology can be an indicator of flow sustainability (the latter in the context of Mars). I'm also very interested in the topographic evolution of Mars. At Ames, I focus on the latter part of this interest: how rocks can create or contribute to an atmosphere. Specifically, I am investigating the connection between geology, geochemistry, and microbiology in serpentinizing systems, through a combination of field, laboratory and theoretical studies. Deep-sea exploration has been a growing interest of mine, overprinted on the space exploration passion that has fueled my career. To that end, I have been involved with research cruises on-board the R/V Atlantis, and have explored the sea-floor both robotically (ROV Jason), and physically (DSV Alvin).


Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences and certificate in Astrobiology — University of Washington, 2010
M.Sc. in Aeronautics and Astronautics — University of Washington, 2004
B.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering — Florida Institute of Technology, 2002

Select Publications:

NASA Missions:

Fruit Fly Lab (FFL-01) – Systems Engineer;
Fruit Fly Lab (FFL-02) – Systems Engineer