Charlene (Charlie) Detelich

Astronomy & Space Sciences


I am a second-year Cornell Astronomy Ph.D. student interested in the surface processes of icy satellites. Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter, is densely covered in thousand-kilometer-long fractures called double ridges. Despite the prevalence of double ridges on Europa’s surface, there has yet to be a consensus on what formation process creates the fractures. In preparation for the arrival of NASA’s Europa Clipper mission to Europa in 2029, I am using finite element modeling to help narrow down which hypotheses for double ridge formation are the most plausible. I’m also a graduate affiliate of the Europa Imaging System (EIS) team for NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission, where I create trajectory analysis products to best help the science team with mission planning. Farther into the solar system, Titan, an icy moon of Saturn, has large lakes and seas of liquid methane and ethane. I numerically model wind-driven waves on Titan’s lakes and seas as part of a larger effort to understand wave-driven erosion on the shoreline of the lakes and seas.

Before coming to Cornell in 2022, I earned my B.S. in geology from North Carolina State University (19’) and two minors in meteorology and graphic communications. While at N.C. State, I researched Iapetus, an icy moon of Saturn. I also interned at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL), where I researched Mars. I then earned my M.S. in Applied Geological Sciences (21’) at the University of Alaska Anchorage studying broad-scale tectonics on Europa and how geologic features resemble artifacts of plate tectonics. After completing my M.S., I returned to APL and worked with the EIS team on science operation center (SOC) development, science communication, flyby planning software development, and instrument calibration.

Outside of academia, I gravitate toward artistic activities and am involved in photography, painting, and pottery. I also enjoy hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, listening to records, and spending time with my two cats, Bowie and Mercury.