Barbara Cohen (scientist)

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Barbara Cohen
Alma materState University of New York
University of Arizona
Scientific career
InstitutionsGoddard Space Flight Center

Marshall Space Flight Center
University of New Mexico
University of Hawaii

University of Tennessee

Barbara Cohen is a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The asteroid 6816 Barbcohen is named after her.


Cohen is from upstate New York.[1] She earned a Bachelors in geology from State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1993.[1] She joined Phi Beta Kappa during her studies.[1] She moved to the University of Arizona for her doctoral studies, where she received a University of Arizona Graduate College Fellowship and NASA Graduate Student Research Program Fellowship, and graduated in 2000.[2] Here Cohen looked to understand impact rates on the moon using microbeam analysis and Argon–argon dating of lunar meteorites. She identified that clastic rock in lunar meteorites are different to samples from Apollo, and have ages consistent with Late Heavy Bombardment.[2] While at the University of Arizona, she also led a study into various physical properties of chili.[3]


Cohen joined the University of Tennessee as a postdoctoral researcher, where she worked on analysis of lunar samples such as Dhofar 025 and Dhofar 026 with Larry Taylor.[4][5] She moved to the University of Hawaii, where she worked with Klaus Keil on geochronology of Luna 20 samples.[2] In 2003 she joined University of New Mexico as an Assistant Professor.[1][6] Cohen was part of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity science teams, where she was identifying the nature and origins of Martian impact material.[7]

In 2007 Cohen joined Marshall Space Flight Center to support the planning for human exploration of the Moon for the Lunar Precursor Robotic Program.[2][8] She was the lead US project scientist for the International Lunar Network, a mission to understand the Moon's composition.[9] Cohen was principal investigator for the Lunar Flashlight mission, which plans to send a CubeSat to the moon to search for water ice in 2018.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17] She was appointed lead of the planetary science team.[18] In this role she ran the Marshall Space Flight Center Noble Gas Research Laboratory (MNGRL), using noble-gas isotopes to understand the temperature-time histories of rocks and meteorites.[19][20] Conscious that the MNGRL was so large, she developed a rover-sized Potassium-argon laser experiment (KArLE).[21]

She has volunteered for several missions to search for Antarctic meteorites (ANSMET).[22][23][24] Cohen contributed to "The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon", a 2008 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report.[25][26] In 2010 Cohen featured in the Faces of Marshall campaign.[27] She was part of group who created the 2013 Planetary Science Decadal Survey, which provided a roadmap for planetary science missions and priorities.[28] In 2016 she took part in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA).[29] In 2017 Cohen joined Goddard Space Flight Center.[1]

Cohen is a member of the American Geophysical Union and has been part of several committees.[30] She is a member of The Planetary Society.[31] Cohen won the 2018 Angioletta Coradini Mid-Career Award from NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).[32]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Bio - Barbara A Cohen". Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  2. ^ a b c d "Barbara Cohen, PhD". Marshall Space Flight Centre. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  3. ^ "Special Session: Physical Properties of Chili". Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  4. ^ "Meteoritical Bulletin: Entry for Dhofar 025". Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  5. ^ "Recent Postdoctoral Research Associates | Lawrence A. Taylor". Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  6. ^ COHEN, Barbara Anne; SWINDLE, Timothy D.; KRING, David A. (2005-05-01). "Geochemistry and40Ar-39Ar geochronology of impact-melt clasts in feldspathic lunar meteorites: Implications for lunar bombardment history". Meteoritics & Planetary Science. 40 (5): 755–777. doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2005.tb00978.x. ISSN 1945-5100.
  7. ^ "Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Spotlight". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  8. ^ "Marshall Space Flight Center competes for NASA moon sample mission". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  9. ^ Cohen, Barbara a; Server, Nasa Technical Reports (2013-06-27). The Lunar Quest Program and the International Lunar Network. BiblioGov. ISBN 9781289080426.
  10. ^ "NASA Hopes to Test Mining Moon Water for Future Manned Missions — NOVA Next | PBS". NOVA Next. 2014-10-28. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  11. ^ NASA's Lunar Flashlight - TMRO, retrieved 2018-04-11
  12. ^ "Mining Water On The Moon: NASA Plans". ValueWalk. 2014-10-13. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  13. ^ "Does an Ocean on One of Saturn's Moons Mean We'll Find Alien Space Fish There? | VICE News". VICE News. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  14. ^ magazine, Alexandra Witze,Nature. "U.S. Scientists Plot Return to the Moon's Surface". Scientific American. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  15. ^ "NASA Is Studying How to Mine the Moon for Water". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  16. ^ TMRO (2016-08-27), Interview with Dr. Barbara Cohen, Lunar Flashlight - 9.26, retrieved 2018-04-11
  17. ^ "JPL | Cubesat | Lunar Flashlight". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  18. ^ "Introducing Barbara Cohen". astrotweeps. 2015-04-05. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  19. ^ "The MNGRL laboratory". Marshall Space Flight Center. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  20. ^ "The MSFC Noble Gas Research Laboratory (MNGRL): A NASA Investigator Facility". NASA. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  21. ^ "Dr. Barbara Cohen: a renaissance woman who contributes broadly". Women in Planetary Science: Female Scientists on Careers, Research, Space Science, and Work/Life Balance. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  22. ^ "NASA scientist collects bits of the solar system from an Antarctic glacier". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  23. ^ Steigerwald, Bill (2018-04-02). "Searching Antarctic Ice for Pieces of the Solar System". NASA. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  24. ^ "Barbara Cohen | FINESSE". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  25. ^ "The Scientific Context for the Exploration of the Moon". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  26. ^ Front Matter | The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon | The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/11954.
  27. ^ Administrator, NASA Content (2016-07-07). "Barbara Cohen: Planetary Scientist". NASA. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  28. ^ "planetary". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  29. ^ "Interview with Dr. Barbara Cohen, the Science Lead for the NASA's Lunar Flashlight mission. [15:16] • r/space". reddit. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  30. ^ "Barbara A. Cohen - Leadership". Leadership. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  31. ^ "Barbara Cohen". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  32. ^ "Angioletta Coradini Award". Retrieved 2018-05-13.