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Jonathan Lunine

David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences, Chair, Department of Astronomy


Lunine is interested in how planets form and evolve, what processes maintain and establish habitability, and what kinds of exotic environments (methane lakes, etc.) might host a kind of chemistry sophisticated enough to be called "life".  He pursues these interests through theoretical modeling and participation in spacecraft missions.  He worked with the radar and other instruments on Cassini, is co-investigator on the Juno mission now in orbit at Jupiter, and on the MISE instrument for the Europa Clipper mission.  He is on the science team for the James Webb Space Telescope, focusing on characterization of extrasolar planets and Kuiper Belt objects.  Lunine has contributed to concept studies for a wide range of planetary and exoplanetary missions. Lunine is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has participated in or chaired a number of advisory and strategic planning committees for the Academy and for NASA.


  • Astronomy
  • Carl Sagan Institute

Graduate Fields

  • Astronomy and Space Sciences


  • Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science


Planetary system formation, evolution of volatile-rich worlds.


Spring 2021

Fall 2021


A rationale for exploring the ocean worlds of the solar system:

  • Lunine, J.I. 2017. Ocean worlds exploration. Acta Astronautica 131, 123-130.

Recent Juno-related papers:

  • Bolton, S.J., Lunine, J.I., Stevenson, D., Connerney, J.E.P., Levin, S., Owen, T.C., Bagenal, F., Gautier, D., Ingersoll, A.P., Orton, G.S., Guillot, T., Hubbard, W., Bloxham, J., Coradini, A., Stephens, S.K., Mokashi, P., Thorne, R., Thorpe, R. 2017. The Juno Mission. Space Science Reviews 213, 5-37. 
  • Ingersoll, A.P., Adumitroaie, V., Allison, M.D., Atrya, S., Bellotti, A.A. Bolton, S.J., Brown, S.T., Gulkis, S., Janssen, M.A., Levin, S.M., Li, C., Li, L., Lunine, J.I., Orton, G.S., Oyafuso, F.A., Steffes, P. 2017. Implications of the ammonia distribution on Jupiter from 1 to 100 bars as measured by the Juno microwave radiometer. Geophys. Research Letters10.1002/2017GL074277.
  • Wang, D., Miguel, Y., and Lunine, J. 2017. Modeling synthetic spectra for transiting extrasolar giant planets: Detectability of H2S and PH3 with the James Webb Space Telescope. Astrophys. J.  850: 199 (15 pp). 

Recent papers on Titan seas:

  • Mastrogiuseppe, M., Hayes, A.G., Poggiali, V., Lunine, J.I., Lorenz, R.D., Seu, R., Le Gall, A., Notarnicola, C., Mitchell, K.L., Malaska, M., Birch, S.P.D. 2018. Bathymetry and composition of Titan’s Ontario Lacus derived from Monte Carlo-based waveform inversion of Cassini RADAR altimetry data. Icarus 300, 203-209. 
  • Malaska, M.J., Hodyss, R., Lunine, J.I., Hayes, A.G., Hofgartner, J.D., Hollyday, G., and Lorenz, R.D., 2017. Laboratory measurements of nitrogen dissolution in Titan lake fluids. Icarus 289, 94-105. 


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