Margarita Marinova

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Margarita Marinova
Margarita Marinova October 2017(cropped).jpg
Marinova in 2017
Alma materMIT Caltech
Known forTerraforming Mars

Margarita Marinova is a Bulgarian aeronautical engineer. She is the Senior Mars and Vehicle Systems Development Engineer at SpaceX.

Early life and education[edit]

Margarita Marinova was born in Bulgaria[when?] and can speak five languages, English, Bulgarian, Russian, German and French.[1] When she was 10, she moved to Vienna for one year, before moving to Toronto.[2] Her mother and father were computer engineers.[3] She was the founder and chair of the Toronto Chapter of the international Mars Society whilst at high school.[4] She entered and won[clarification needed] the NASA Space Settlement Design Content in 1997, 1998 and 1999.[5] By the age of 18, she had co-authored five science papers.[1] She was determined to one day visit Mars, although she did not always receive encouragement from her adult advisors: "In high school, my guidance counsellor gave me a big speech about how I would never get into an American university".[1]

Marinova completed a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering at MIT in 2003, specializing in liquid rocket propulsion.[6][7] As an undergraduate she worked with Chris McKay of NASA Ames Research Center on the warming effects of perfluorocarbons (PFCs), with the aim to trigger a greenhouse effect and eventually terraform Mars.[7] In 2003 she moved to Germany, working for a year at Airbus Safran Launchers on the Calorimetric Nozzle Program, where she investigated heat transfer in an engine rocket nozzle.[6] She completed an MSc in Planetary Science at Caltech in 2006 and a PhD "Inquiries into the consequences of planetary-scale impacts and the implications of carbonates in the hyper-arid core of the Sahara" in 2010, under the supervision of Oded Aharonson.[8][9] While at Caltech, she led a study published in Nature in 2008 that demonstrated that the dichotomy in the surface age and relative altitude between Mars's northern and southern hemispheres could have been caused by Mars being struck by a large impactor early in its history.[10]


Falcon 9 first stage test firing (2)

Marinova began working with NASA in 2010, where she used Earth analogs (including the Arctic, Sahara Desert, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Dry Valleys of Antarctica) to understand Mars.[11] Here she was one of seven team members who spent three austral summers in Antarctica, testing ice-penetrating drills for a future mission to Mars.[12][13] NASA's IceBite, which drilled several meters into the ground ice to collect deep ice and search for signs of organics and life, was documented by Marinova for Astrobiology Magazine.[14][15][16][17] Next she joined the Pavilion Lake Research Project, studying at the distribution and morphology of microbialites in Pavilion Lake, Canada.[18][19][6] Her final project for NASA was on the Extreme Environments Mission Operations (NEEMO),[11][20] which sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in the Aquarius underwater laboratory, the world's only undersea research station, for up to three weeks at a time in preparation for future space exploration.[21]

In 2013 Marinova joined SpaceX as Vehicle Systems and Propulsion Engineer.[22][23][24] She was the Vehicle Lead for the research program on densified propellants for use in the first stage of Falcon 9.[25][26] She became Senior Mars Development Engineer in 2017.[2] She is Team Lead for a Caltech incubator for determining science questions, collaborations, and mission proposals for Mars subsurface access beyond Mars 2020.[27]


  1. ^ a b c "We Become What We Believe | MIT Spectrum". MIT Spectrum. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  2. ^ a b "CurioCity - CurioCité | Margarita Marinova - Sr. Mars Development". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  3. ^ "Margarita Marinova: Turning the Red Planet Green Inevitable Step - - Sofia News Agency". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  4. ^ "TO-Mars: Chapter Chronicle". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  5. ^ "NASA/NSS Space Settement Design Contest: Participant Testimonials". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  6. ^ a b c "Margarita Marinova | Pavilion Lake Research Project". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  7. ^ a b "DMNS : Water & Life on Mars?". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  8. ^ Marinova, Margarita (2010-06-04). "Inquiries into the consequences of planetary-scale impacts and the implications of carbonates in the hyper-arid core of the Sahara". Caltech. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  9. ^ "Using global warming to create conditions for life on Mars". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  10. ^ Marinova, Margarita M.; Aharonson, Oded; Asphaug, Erik (2008). "Mega-impact formation of the Mars hemispheric dichotomy". Nature. 453 (7199): 1216–1219. doi:10.1038/nature07070. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 18580945.
  11. ^ a b "NASA - Meet the NEEMO 15 Support Team". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  12. ^ "NASA Astrobiology". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  13. ^ "Breaking Antarctica's ice". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  14. ^ "IceBite Blog: University Valley - Astrobiology Magazine". Astrobiology Magazine. 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  15. ^ "IceBite Blog: Visiting Lake Joyce - Astrobiology Magazine". Astrobiology Magazine. 2010-01-11. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  16. ^ "NASA Drill Team Breaking the Antarctic Ice". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  17. ^ "The USAP Portal: Science and Support in Antarctica - 2012-2013 Science Planning Summaries". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  18. ^ Marinova, M.; Laval, B.; McKay, C. P.; Shepard, R.; Lim, D. S.; Forrest, A.; Andersen, D.; Arnold, R.; Brady, A. L. (2009-12-01). "Physical influences on microbialite morphological variation and distribution in Pavilion Lake, British Columbia, Canada". AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts. 21: B21A–0320. Bibcode:2009AGUFM.B21A0320M.
  19. ^ pavilionlakeblog (2010-06-27), Ask a Scientist #1 - Pavilion Lake Research Project - Dr. Margarita Marinova, retrieved 2018-01-14
  20. ^ "NEEMO 15: Scenes From Training Week – AnaBlogs: Blogs from Analog Missions". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  21. ^ "NEEMO History". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 21 March 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  22. ^ "What scientists say about Elon Musk's idea to nuke Mars". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  23. ^ "Margarita Marinova Flyer" (PDF). Colorado. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  24. ^ Dujmovic, Jurica. "Here's how we could warm up Mars and make it more habitable". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  25. ^ "A conversation with Space X's Margarita Marinova". Canada 2067. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  26. ^ "Margarita Marinova - Linked In". Retrieved 2018-01-14.[dead link]
  27. ^ Chatila, Iryna. "Workshop: Next-Generation Approach for Detecting Climate-Carbon Feedbacks - Space-Based Integration of Carbonyl Sulfide (OCS), CO2, and Solar Induced Fluorescence (SIF)". Retrieved 2018-01-14.