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Dr. Matthew Chojnacki

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Research Scientist

Currently resides in CO
mchojnacki [at]
Areas of Expertise
Targets: Asteroids, Earth, Mars
Disciplines/Techniques: Geology, Geomorphology, Mapping, Remote sensing, Spectroscopy, Thermal Emission Spectroscopy
Missions: Mars Odyssey, MER, MRO, OSIRIS-REx
Mission Roles: Data archive, Data validation, Mission operations, Science operations
Instruments: Cameras

Research Interests


            Dr. Matthew Chojnacki is a Research Scientist working with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) mission at the Planetary Science Institute (PSI). He is a planetary geologist who has been involved with the scientific exploration of Mars for over a decade. His recent research has focused on the geologic, morphologic, and climatic evolutions of Mars, particularly: aeolian transport and sand dune dynamics, the thermophysical and spectral properties of the martian surface, aqueous alteration and weathering of planetary crusts, and terrestrial analog studies. He has participated and led several focused studies and grants, which involve geologic mapping and constraining contemporary dynamic surface processes (Recurring Slope Linea (RSL), active sand dunes). Matt co-manages the HiRISE Operations Center (HiROC) photogrammetry lab, and participates in HiRISE-related targeting and initial science assessments. Most recently he participated on the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission by leading the stereo photogrammetry Digital Terrain Model (DTM) production.

Technical Skils:

  • Computer experience includes: extensive experience with ENVI/IDL, ESRI ArcMap, stereo processing with SOCET SET (®BAE Systems) photogrammetry software, Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS), JMARS, Google Earth, ISIS, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator, Word, Excel, with both Macintosh and PC. Programing writing experience with IDL, Perl, and ISIS.  
  • Remote geologic mapping using multiple data sets (visible-wavelength images, composition, thermophysical, topography), thermophysical modeling (TES and THEMIS), and standard data processing (Mars: MOC, MOLA, TES, THEMIS, PanCam, HRSC, HiRISE, CTX, and CRISM; Earth: AVIRIS, MASTER, SRTM).
  • Geology field work: Experience with stratigraphic, geologic, and morphologic field mapping, Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) mapping, and high-resolution LIDAR (light detection and ranging) survey equipment.

Professional History


  • Ph.D. in Planetary Geology and Remote Sensing, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. Dissertation: Martian Dune Fields: Aeolian Activity, Morphology, Sediment Pathways, and Provenance (2013). Advisers: Devon Burr and Jeffrey Moersch
  • B.A. in Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO. (2004)
  • B.A. in Planetary Science (Magna Cum Laude), University of Colorado, Boulder, CO. Thesis: Surficial Properties of Ophir Chasma, Mars: Integration of Remote-Sensing Data (2004). Advisers: Bruce Jakosky and Brian Hynek

Professional Experience:

Professional Organizations:

  • Geological Society of America, 2013 – present
  • American Geophysical Union, 2006 – present
  • Planetary Society, 1997 – present
  • American Astronomical Society / Division for Planetary Sciences, 2012 – 2015
  • Federal Relations Subcommittee, 2012 – 2015

Honors and Awards


  • 2019 NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, Characterizing the Dynamic Activity of Martian Mega-ripples and Transverse Aeolian Ridges – PI (2020-2023)
  • 2016 NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, The Distribution, Properties, and Implications of Ancient Paleo-Bedforms on Mars – PI (2017-2021)
  • 2016 NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, Martian Dust Devil Tracks in HiRISE and CRISM (PI Ingrid Daubar) – Co-I (2017-2020)
  • 2016 NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, Characterization of Layered Deposits at the Valles Marineris Plateau (PI Isaac Smith) – Co-I (2017-2020)
  • 2015 NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, Studies of Dune Dynamics and Temporal Flux Variations on Mars (PI Nathan Bridges) – Co-I (2016-2019)
  • 2014 NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, Characterizing Global Sand Flux for Martian Bedform Construction Times and Erosion Rates – PI (2015-2019)
  • 2013 NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program, Geologic Map of the Coprates Chasma, Valles Marineris, Mars (PI Brian Hynek) – Co-I (2015-2017)
  • 2012 NASA Mars Data Analysis Program, Characterizing the Current Aeolian Transport Environment for Sediment in Greater Meridiani Planum (PI Tim Michaels) – Co-I (2014-2016)
  • Honorable Mention for Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America Stephen E. Dwornik Planetary Geoscience Student Paper Award (Graduate Oral) at the 2013 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
  • Tennessee Space Grant Fellowship 2008-2012
  • Winner of the 2010 and 2012 Mars Exploration Program Mars Student Travel Award
  • Winner of the 2011 Mayo Foundation Educational Scholarship
  • Winner of the 2010 Third Lunar Planetary Institute Career Development Award
  •  2017 NASA Group Achievement Award – MER Operations and Science
  •  2013 NASA Group Achievement Award – OSIRIS-REx
  •  Winner of the 2006 AGU Editor’s Choice award for “Surface Processes


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