Dr. Jennifer L. Heldmann
NASA Ames Research Center, Planetary Systems Branch of the Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division, Planetary Scientist
Dr. Jennifer Heldmann is a Planetary Scientist in the Planetary Systems Branch of the Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division at NASA Ames Research Center. Heldmann’s scientific research interests focus on studies of the Moon and Mars.
Her Mars research focuses on studies of recent water and ice on the Red Planet through spacecraft data analysis, numerical modeling, and fieldwork in Mars-analog environments. Heldmann also studies the Moon to improve our understanding of lunar volatile (ice) deposits. Such studies are important scientifically in terms of Solar System evolution and also are relevant for planning future human exploration through the identification of materials that can be used for in situ resource utilization (ISRU). She served on the Science Team, Payload Team, and as the Observation Campaign Coordinator for NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission to study the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar poles.
Heldmann is involved in planning for the future human exploration of Mars and has served on several MEPAG (Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group) special action teams for defining precursor activities needed to enable future human exploration of Mars. (e.g., Mars Precursor Science Analysis Group, Human Exploration of Mars Science Analysis Group, Mars-Forward Lunar Objectives Special Action Team, Analysis of the Precursor Measurements of Mars Needed to Reduce the Risk of the First Human Missions to Mars). She has also served as the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Lead for OSEWG (Optimizing Science and Exploration Working Group) at NASA Headquarters to connect SMD science objectives with NASA’s human exploration plans for the inner Solar System.
Much of Heldmann’s research is conducted at terrestrial analog field sites where she leads diverse teams of scientists, technologists, and operational personnel. Heldmann actively participates in research and field campaigns to enable human and robotic exploration of the Solar System with tasks such as organizing and working in Science Operations Backrooms, serving as Science Lead for tactical and strategic science planning for human and robotic missions, and assisting in the development of mission concepts of operations for multiple analog field campaigns. She is currently the Principal Investigator (PI) of the FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science & Exploration) team through NASA’s SSERVI (Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute) and founded the SSERVI Terrestrial Analogs Focus Group. She has conducted terrestrial analog research in locales such as the Outback of Australia, the Canadian High Arctic, the Atacama Desert, Spitsbergen, the Mojave Desert, Idaho, Iceland, and Antarctica, among other locales.