Livio Leonardo Tornabene

Livio Leonardo Tornabene
Research Scientist

Dr. Livio L. Tornabene is an Adjunct Research Professor at University of Western Ontario, coming most recently from the Centre for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian Institution after serving on the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE; onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) operations and science team and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) science team at the University of Arizona for 4 years. Prior to that, in May 2007, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences where he was a junior science team member of two active Mars missions: the Thermal Emission Imaging System onboard Mars Odyssey and the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity). Livio also has a M.S. from the University of South Florida (Tampa) and a B.S. from the University of Florida (Gainesville), both in Geological Sciences.

Livio’s primary science focus involves the surface processes, particularly the petrogenesis (i.e., origin) and evolution and aqueous alteration of planetary crusts, with emphasis on impact cratering as a geologic process and how it has contributed to the origin and evolution of crustal materials. In addition to Mars and the Earth, his research also includes the Moon, which is often used as a simpler baseline condition for understanding impact cratering geologically (e.g., the moon offers excellent preservation, and volatile- or water-poor target rocks, etc.). The datasets that he most often employs include visible-near infrared high spatial resolution images (morphology/mapping); moderate to high spatial resolution stereo image-derived Digital Terrain or Elevation Models (geometry and morphometry) and multispectral and hyperspectral datasets spanning visible to thermal infrared wavelengths (composition, physical and thermosphysical properties of surfaces).

Livio maintains his involvement in spacecraft missions as a science team member of HiRISE, and recently joined the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on ExoMars 2016 as a Co-Investigator. Because our ability to conduct fieldwork, collect samples (with context from the field), and analyze them in a lab setting not likely in the immediate future, terrestrial analogues are an important and growing aspect of Livio’s research. As such, he has been recently involved with both NASA and CSA colleagues in an analogue study of Meteor Crater, Sudbury, Mistastin crater located in Labrador, Canada, which is a crater formed in anorthositic rocks – rocks that are almost identical to those found in the Lunar Highlands. Most recently, Livio participated on a team of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students that conducted a week-long Mars sample return analogue mission at the CSA’s Mars Yard in St. Hubert, CA.

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