Alberto G. Fairén

Visiting Scientist, CCAPS


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. His work has been achieved through multi-disciplinary collaboration with researchers from around the world, and is published in 150 papers and 300 communications at international conferences.



  • 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, Science Team Member on MEDA.
  • ESA: ExoMars, Member of the Rover Science Operations Working Group (RSOWG), Science Team Member on PanCam, CLUPI and RLS, and Member of the Landing Site Selection Working Group (LSSWG).


  • Fairén & Cabrol (2023). A new deal for the human exploration of Mars. Nature Astronomy, 7, 753–754.

  • Fairén et al. (2023). Ecological successions throughout the desiccation of Tirez lagoon (Spain) as an astrobiological time-analog for wet-to-dry transitions on Mars. Scientific Reports, 13, 1423.

  • Hader, Fairén, MacLeod (2023). Planetary Protection requirements should address pollution from chemicals and materials. PNAS, 120 (42) e2310792120. 

  • Azua-Bustos, Fairén, et al. (2023). Dark microbiome and extremely low organics in Atacama fossil delta unveil Mars life detection limits. Nature Communications, 14, 808.

  • Farley et al., including Fairén (2022). Aqueously altered igneous rocks sampled on the floor of Jezero crater, Mars. Science, 377, eabo2196 .
  • Liu et al., including Fairén (2022). An olivine cumulate outcrop on the floor of Jezero crater, Mars. Science, 377, 1513–1519.
  • Scheller et al., including Fairén (2022). Aqueous alteration processes in Jezero crater, Mars − implications for organic geochemistry. Science, 10.1126/science.abo5204.
  • Hamran et al., including Fairén (2022). Ground penetrating radar observations of subsurface structures in the floor of Jezero crater, Mars. Science Advances, 8, 34, 8564 .
  • Bell et al., including Fairén (2022). Geological, multispectral, and meteorological imaging results from the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover in Jezero crater. Science Advances, 8, 47, 4856.
  • Tice et al., including Fairén (2022). Alteration history of Séítah formation rocks inferred by PIXL x-ray fluorescence, x-ray diffraction, and multispectral imaging on Mars. Science Advances, 8, 47, 9084.
  • Losa-Adams, Gil-Lozano, Fairén, et al. (2021). Long lasting habitable periods in Gale crater constrained by glauconitic clays. Nature Astronomy, 5, 936-942.
  • Titus et al., including Fairén (2021). A roadmap for planetary caves science and exploration. Nature Astronomy, 5, 524-525.
  • 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 275 articles of popular science (Planetology, Astrobiology and Molecular Biology) in newspapers and magazines in Spain and South America (in Spanish).