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Alberto Fairén

Visiting Scientist, CCAPS

Alberto  Fairén

Educational Background

B.S. Biology

M.S. Genetics

Ph.D. Molecular Biology




Alberto Fairén is an interdisciplinary planetary scientist and astrobiologist, specializing in geochemistry, mineralogy, hydrogeology, sedimentology and environmental microbiology of extremophiles, with a particular focus on understanding the habitability of early Mars and the search for life on Mars and ocean worlds.



  • NASA: MER-B Opportunity, Athena Science Team Member (2012-2014).
  • NASA: MSL Curiosity, Science Team Member on SAM (2012-2014), APXS (2012-2014) and REMS (2014-present).
  • NASA: Mars2020, Collaborator on MEDA.
  • ESA: ExoMars, Member of the Rover Science Operations Working Group (RSOWG), Science Team Member on PanCam and CLUPI, and Member of the Landing Site Selection Working Group (LSSWG).


  • Astronomy


  • Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science


  • Losa-Adams, Gil-Lozano, Fairén, et al. (2021). Long lasting habitable periods in an ancient lake of Mars constrained by glauconitic clays. Nature Astronomy, in press.
  • Titus et al., including Fairén (2021). A new roadmap for planetary caves exploration. Nature Astronomy, in press.
  • Fairén (2020). Organic chemistry on a cool and wet young Mars. Nature Astronomy, 4, 446-447.
  • Wierzchos, et al., and Fairén (2020). Crystalline water in gypsum is unavailable for cyanobacteria in laboratory experiments and in natural desert endolithic habitats. PNAS, 117, 27786-27787..
  • Bishop, Fairén, et al. (2018). Surface clay formation during short-term warmer and wetter conditions on a largely cold ancient Mars. Nature Astronomy, 2, 206-213.
  • Fairén (2017). Icy Mars lakes warmed by methane. Nature Geoscience, 10, 717-718.
  • Hurowitz et al., including Fairén (2017). Redox stratification of an ancient lake in Gale crater, Mars. Science, 356, eaah6849.
  • Bristow et al., including Fairén (2017). Low Hesperian pCO2 constrained from in situ mineralogical analysis at Gale crater, Mars. PNAS, 114, 2166-2170.
  • Stern et al., including Fairén (2015). Evidence for indigenous nitrogen in sedimentary and aeolian deposits from the Curiosity rover investigations at Gale crater, Mars. PNAS, 112, 4245-4250.
  • Fairén (2014). The Mars rovers 200 years from now. Science, 343, 24.
  • Arvidson et al., including Fairén (2014). Ancient aqueous environments at Endeavour Crater, Mars. Science, 343, 387.
  • Ming et al., including Fairén (2014). Volatile and organic compositions of sedimentary rocks in Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars. Science, 343, 388.
  • Fairén & Schulze-Makuch (2013). The overprotection of Mars. Nature Geoscience, 6, 510-511.
  • Fairén et al. (2011). Cold glacial oceans would have inhibited phyllosilicate sedimentation on early Mars. Nature Geoscience, 4, 667-670.
  • Fairén et al. (2010). Noachian and more recent phyllosilicates in impact craters on Mars. PNAS, 107, 12095-12100.
  • Fairén (2010). Refilling the oceans of early Mars. Nature Geoscience, 3, 452-453.
  • Fairén et al. (2009). Stability against freezing of aqueous solutions on early Mars. Nature, 459 (7245), 401-404.
  • Fairén et al. (2008). Finding of unusual soil on Mars could stem from tools used. Nature, 456, 870.
  • Fairén (2005). What should we call Pluto? Science, 310, 53-54.
  • Fairén et al. (2004). Inhibition of carbonate synthesis in acidic oceans on early Mars. Nature, 431, 423-426.



Alberto has published 3 books and over 250 articles of popular science (Planetology, Astrobiology and Molecular Biology) in newspapers, magazines and webs in Spain and South America (in Spanish).



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