Dr. Edgard G. Rivera-Valentín
Dr. Edgard G. Rivera-Valentín is a planetary scientist and NASA Early Career Fellow who uses numerical methods, spacecraft and ground-based observations, as well as experimental results to understand solar system bodies as a system. Ed’s work crosses disciplines, such as physics, astronomy, geology, and astrobiology. Using systems science approaches, Ed investigates physical processes and the interactions between such processes to constrain planetary evolution and habitability, as well as guide solar system exploration. A planet trekker, Ed’s work has spanned the solar system from Mercury out to the icy moons of Saturn.
Dr. Rivera-Valentín’s recent work has focused on three broad topics:
Habitability – Because life as we know it needs liquid water, we can constrain a planet’s biologic potential by assessing its ability to host liquids either locally or globally. Using constraints from terrestrial organisms, we can understand the biologic suitability of extraterrestrial liquid water environments by investigating their properties, such as temperature and salinity. Ed uses spacecraft observations, experimental results, and environmental modeling to assess whether regions on bodies, such as Mars, are habitable to life as we know it. Ed particularly focuses on brine formation through atmosphere-regolith interactions on Mars.
Planetary Defense – Planetary radar observations, such as from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, are invaluable for post-discovery characterization of near-Earth objects (NEOs). Ed uses planetary radar observations to characterize the surface geology and composition of planetary surfaces. Additionally, as the PI of LPI’s Planetary Radar Investigation, Demonstration, and Exploration (PRIDE) laboratory, Ed uses insights gleaned from radar experiments along with observations from the Arecibo Observatory to improve NEO characterization in order to inform planetary defense strategies. Ed is also a science collaborator with NEOCam (Near-Earth Object Camera), a mission designed to discover and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids.
Planet Formation – A common geologic process across the solar system are the remnant scars of the early formation of planetary bodies: craters. The impact process not only forms a crater, but alters the surface and subsurface composition of planets and, potentially, their deep interiors. Ed uses spacecraft observations along with numerical simulations to apply impact cratering as a tool to elucidate the early evolution of the solar system by providing geologic context to astrophysical models of solar system formation.
Dr. Rivera-Valentín is active in public engagement, and diversity and inclusion activities. Ed is a member of the Professional Climate and Culture Subcommittee of the AAS/DPS, one of the LPI-JSC Summer Intern Program coordinators, one of the founders of the Boricua Planeteers, a visibility group for Puerto Rican planetary scientists, a member of the USRA Diversity Board, and an active collaborator with the LPI Education and Public Engagement group.