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Suzanne E. Smrekar is an American astronomer and Deputy Principal Investigator for the Mars InSight lander.[1]

Suzanne Elizabeth Smrekar, Ph.D.
Other namesSue
Alma materBrown University, Southern Methodist University
Known forMars InSight lander, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter



Smrekar obtained her B.S. degree in geophysics and mathematics from Brown University in 1984, and her doctorate in geophysics from Southern Methodist University in 1990. She was an postdoctoral researcher at MIT before joining the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 1992.[2]


Published worksEdit

Smrekar and colleague Ellen Stofan reported in Science in 1997 that Venus' heat loss was caused by volcanic activity and formations specific to Venus.[3] As Venus has no plate tectonics like Earth, she and others are attempting to study its volcanalogy to draw better conclusions about formation of Earth.[4] Smrekar and an international team of researchers presented the Venus Emissivitiy Mapper (VEM) at a conference in 2018; this device scans the planet's surface at specific wavelengths to record the mineral composition, and uses other channels to determine cloud cover, weather, interference, and volcanic activity.[5]

Smrekar remains a team member of the joint Brown - MIT NASA Lunar Science Institute.[6] She has jointly written several articles for the Encyclopedia of the Solar System.[1]

NASA MissionsEdit

Smrekar has formed part of multiple NASA teams dedicated to exploring the Solar System. In 1999, she was involved with the design of the ground-penetrant micro-laboratories Deep Space 2 that "hitchhiked" on the Mars Polar Lander.[7] She was Deputy Project Leader for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO),[8][9][10] which, in addition to monitoring the eventual descent for multiple Martian instrument landings, used its shallow- and deep-penetration radar to uncover a pool of solid carbon dioxide at Mars' South Pole - "equivalent to Lake Superior."[11] Direct observation of the Martian lithosphere led to some of the first accurate measurements of the interior temperature of the planet.[12] Her Magellan probe uncovered newly-active geology on the planet.[13][14] She designed the HP3 and GEMS instrument packages for the InSight mission,[15] which commenced in 2016.[16] Smrekar served as Deputy Principal Investigator in addition to constructing much of the ground-penetrant instrumentation for InSight. She lightly referred to needing to obtain sub-surface results of Martian geography and geology as understanding "...the whole enchilada" of non-Earth planets.[17]

Minor planet discovererEdit

On 14 June 1983, Smrekar discovered asteroid 6819 McGarvey at Palomar Observatory. She named it after her mother Flora McGarvey Smrekar (1924–1977).[18]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Smrekar, Sue. "Science - Geophysics & Planetary Geosciences (3223): People: Suzanne Smrekar". Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  2. ^ Next, S. M. (2018-05-29). "Thursday: InSight Mars Mission Deputy Principal Investigator to Speak at SMC". Santa Monica Next. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  3. ^ Stofan, Ellen R.; Smrekar, Suzanne E. (1997-08-29). "Corona Formation and Heat Loss on Venus by Coupled Upwelling and Delamination". Science. 277 (5330): 1289–1294. doi:10.1126/science.277.5330.1289. ISSN 1095-9203.
  4. ^ "Volcanoes on Venus May Still Be Awake". National Geographic News. 2015-06-23. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  5. ^ Smrekar, Suzanne; Arnold, Gabriele E.; Tsang, Constantine; Boerner, Anko; D'Amore, Mario; Jaenchen, Judit; Kappel, David; Mueller, Nils; Maturilli, Alessandro (2018-09-18). "The Venus Emissivity Mapper (VEM): obtaining global mineralogy of Venus from orbit". Infrared Remote Sensing and Instrumentation XXVI. International Society for Optics and Photonics. 10765: 107650D. doi:10.1117/12.2320112.
  6. ^ "Brown MIT NLSI Team". Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  7. ^ "CNN - Along for the ride: microprobes - November 1999". Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  8. ^ (in English) Mission Team
  9. ^ "Home (AIAA)". doi:10.2514/6.2006-5856. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  10. ^ KSC, Lynda Warnock:. "NASA - Deputy Project Scientist". Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  11. ^ Laboratory, Jet Propulsion (2011). "Huge Dry Ice Deposit on Mars". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Mars Cold Goes Down Deep". Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  14. ^ (in English) Comunicato stampa della Nasa del 28 giugno 1994 sui risultati ottenuti dalla sonda Magellano su Venere
  15. ^ "New Mars lander safely touches down. What happens now?". MSN. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  16. ^ (in English) Planetary Science Division Activities with Small Bodies, GEMS: GEophysical Monitoring Station
  17. ^ "New Mars lander safely touches down. What happens now?". Science & Innovation. 2018-11-26. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  18. ^ "6819 McGarvey (1983 LL)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  19. ^ "NASA Weighing Double-Barrel Discovery Award". 2015-10-02. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  20. ^ (in English) Suzanne E. Smrekar
  21. ^ "Lecture: Venus - Earth's Evil Twin or Just Misunderstood?". Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  22. ^ KISSCaltech, Venus: Earth's Evil Twin or Just Misunderstood? - Suzanne Smrekar, retrieved 2018-12-07