Subscribe to receive SETI Institute news weekly in your inbox.

Scientist Interview - Lori Fenton

Scientist Interview - Lori Fenton

Lori Fenton in sand dunes

Planetary scientist Lori Fenton joined the SETI Institute as a principal investigator in 2006, and was awarded NASA's Carl Sagan Fellowship for Early Career Researchers that same year. Lori's primary research interests include aeolian geomorphology (how wind shapes a planetary surface) on Venus, Earth, Mars, and Titan; recent and ongoing climate changes; and the mobility of wind-blown sand and dust. Her research makes use of many different types of information, including fieldwork on Earth, visible and thermal imagery from spacecraft, and wind predictions from atmospheric models such as the NASA Ames Mars Global Climate Model (Ames MGCM) and the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS).

Lori's recent publications describe how dunes and dune fields record climate change on Mars, the first evidence for dune migration on another planet, how atmospheric models can be used to account for wind gustiness and its effects on sand movement, and how the alignment of dune patterns can be used to quantitatively constrain local wind patterns.

Lori Fenton
Lori walks across the crest of a dune as the wind blows sand into the air. Photo credit: Janice Bishop, 2013

Lori shares with the public images of the Mars surface taken by the HiRISE instrument on her blog named "A piece of Mars".

Additional Information

Hangouts with Lori Fenton

Streamed live on Nov 19, 2013, SETI Institute scientists Tim Michaels, Lori Fenton, and Ross Beyer discuss the study of Mars dust using NASA and ESA space missions. What can we learn about the Red Planet's past by studying the motion of the dust on Mars? Moderated by Franck Marchis.


Streamed live on Jul 12, 2013, SETI Institute postdoctoral fellow Simone Silvestro, and SETI Institute Planetary scientists Lori Fenton and Adrian Brown discuss the erosion process on the surface of Mars. Silvestro and Fenton describe their work on aeolian geomorphology (how wind shapes a planetary surface) and Adrian Brown talks about the composition and geophysical effects of the dark dunes in the North polar region of Mars, the biggest known dune in the Solar System. Moderated by Franck Marchis.


Streamed live on Mar 15, 2013, SETI Institute scientists Dale Andersen, Lori Fenton, Franck Marchis, and Cynthia Phillips discuss topics including life in extreme environments (extremophiles), life on Mars, Europa and future missions, and exoplanets. Moderated by Jill Tarter.


Recent Articles