Rosaly Lopes-Gautier

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Rosaly Lopes-Gautier
Born January 8, 1957
Rio de Janeiro
Nationality Brazilian
Fields Planetary geologist, volcanologist
Institutions Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA
Alma mater University College, University of London

Dr. Rosaly M. C. Lopes-Gautier (born 8 January 1957 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is a planetary geologist, volcanologist, an author of numerous scientific papers and several books, as well as a proponent of education. Her major research interests are in planetary and terrestrial surface processes with an emphasis on volcanology.[1][2][3][4]

Life and scientific career[edit]

Early in life, Lopes lived near Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. She moved to London in England in 1975 to study astronomy at the University of London, from where she graduated with honours in astronomy in 1978. For her doctoral studies, she specialized in planetary geology and volcanology and completed her Ph.D. in Planetary Science in 1986 with a thesis on comparing volcanic processes on Earth and Mars. During her Ph.D. she travelled extensively to active volcanoes, particularly Mount Etna in Sicily, and became a member of the UK's Volcanic Eruption Surveillance Team. Lopes began her post doctorate career as the Curator of Modern Astronomy and Deputy Head of the Astronomy Section at the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich, UK. In 1989 she performed hazard mapping at the Vesuvius Observatory in Naples, Italy as a Visiting Researcher.

She joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California as a National Research Council Resident Research Associate in 1989 and, after two years, became a member of the Galileo spacecraft project. She worked on the Near Infra-red Mapping Spectrometer (NIMS) team planning and analyzing observations of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io from 1996 to 2001. She discovered 71 volcanoes on Io that had never before been detected as active.

In 2002, she became Investigation Scientist on the RADAR Team supporting the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. She plans science observations of Saturn, its moons, and rings, and co-chairs the Cassini Satellites Orbiter Science Team. Her main interest on Cassini is in Saturn's largest moon Titan. The synthetic aperture radar data from the RADAR instrument show that Titan has volcanic features, but not like silicate volcanism on the Earth or Io. Titan's flows and other volcanic features are likely the result of ice volcanism (cryovolcanism).

She has participated in several studies of future NASA and European Space Agency missions as a member of the science definition team, including missions to Saturn and Titan. She serves on several committees, including the Annual Program Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences committee. She is the Chair of the Outer Planets group of the International Astronomical Union's Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature. Her past committee experience includes the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council’s Space Studies Board Committee to study the announcement of opportunity[clarification needed] for NASA's New Frontiers missions (2007–2008), the JPL Director's Advisory Committee for Women, the Committee for Minorities and Women in Geosciences of the Geological Society of America, and the Subcommittee on Diversity at the American Geophysical Union.

Her awards include the Latinas in Science medal from the Comisión Feminil Mexicana Nacional in 1991, the 1997 Woman of the Year in Science and Technology Award from the Miami-based GEM television, the 2006 Women at Work Award, the 2007 NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and the 2005 Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society. She is a member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Geophysical Society, and a Fellow of the AAAS, the Royal Geographical Society, and the Explorers Club.

Lopes has written many research papers, articles, book chapters and encyclopaedia entries. She has been active in the media, featured on numerous documentaries for Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, History Channel, PBS, and on Nightline on American television, and has been interviewed by national and international media. She has written four books, The Volcano Adventure Guide (Cambridge University Press, 2005), Volcanic Worlds: Exploring the Solar System Volcanoes (Praxis-Springer, 2004), Io After Galileo: A New View of Jupiter's Volcanic Moon (Praxis-Springer, 2007), and "Alien Volcanoes" (Johns Hopkins Press, 2008).

Other work and interests[edit]

Lopes is a supporter of education, diversity, and outreach both nationally and internationally. She has given public lectures in several countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas and was the co-organizer of the United Nations/European Space Agency/The Planetary Society workshops in 1992 and 1993. In 2005, she was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, in recognition of her efforts in public education, particularly among Hispanic groups and young women. This work includes talks, interviews, articles, a book on planetary volcanism, and efforts to nurture and mentor young scientists. Her hobbies include scuba diving, hiking, visiting volcanoes, and collecting volcano art.

Selected documentaries and TV shows:

  • History Channel's "Prehistoric Megastorms" (2008);
  • "Heads Up" Science Series, Knowledge TV, Canada, episode on New Horizons (January 2008);
  • History Channel's "Search for E.T.", in "The Universe" series (August 2007);
  • PBS "Wired Science" interview on volcanoes (October 2007);
  • Discovery Channel's "Titan: Rendezvous with Saturn's Moon" (updated version, May 2007);
  • National Geographic Television's "Naked Science: Deadliest Planets" (December 2006);
  • History Channel's "Ask Mr. Know-It-All", pilot episode (as expert on volcanic dust), 2006;
  • History Channel's "Inside the Volcano" (December 2006);
  • Discovery Channel's "Rewind 2006" (science stories of 2006, December 2006);
  • National Geographic Television's "Hollywood Science: Forces of Nature" (April 2006);
  • Nightline's "Galileo" (September 2003);
  • Discovery Channel's "Planet Storm" (2001);
  • Discovery Channel's "95 Worlds and Counting" (2001)

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ Lopes-Gautier, Rosaly M. "Resumé". NASA. Retrieved 18 May 2010. [dead link]
  2. ^ Lopes-Gautier, Rosaly M. "Personal Information". NASA. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Lopes, Rosaly M. "Personal Information". NASA. Retrieved 18 May 2010. 
  4. ^ Lopes-Gautier, Rosaly M. "Personal Information". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 18 May 2010.