PTYS/LPL Faculty

Kuiper 221


Walter Harris


Ph.D., 1993, University of Michigan

Years with LPL: 2013 to present

Planetary Astronomy, Planetary Atmospheres, Small Bodies, Solar and Heliospheric Research, Remote Sensing Instrumentation

Dr. Harris' research is focused on the structure of thin atmospheres and their transition to and interactions with the space environment. He is particularly interested the information that comet atmospheres provide about basic photochemical processes, the formation of the solar system, and the characteristics of the solar wind. He is also engaged in an ongoing study of the plasma interface between the solar wind and interstellar medium via remote sensing of interstellar neutral material as it passes through the solar system.

In addition to their observational program, Dr. Harris' group has an active instrument development effort in the area of spatial heterodyne spectroscopy, or SHS. SHS instruments occupy a special observational niche by providing very high velocity resolution of angularly extended emission line targets with much higher sensitivity than classical spectroscopy. Current funding for SHS development has led to new instruments for both ground (visible band) and suborbital (far ultraviolet) observations of comets and the interplanetary medium.

Current Grants

  • Reflective Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometers for High-Resolving-Power Emission-line Characterization from Orbital and Remote Missions (NASA: Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration 2017-2020)
  • Heliospheric Hydrogen as a Probe of the Heliopause and Interstellar Magnetic Field (NASA: Heliospheric Technology and Instrument Development for Science 2016-2019)
  • In the Eye of the Storm: Inner Coma Remote Sensing of Three Jupiter Family Comets (NASA: Solar System Observations 2015-2019)
  • All-Reflective Spatial Heterodyne Spectroscopy:  Extending High Sensitivity Velocity Resolved Measurements of Solar System Dynamics into the EUV (NASA: Planetary Instrument Concepts for the Advancement of Solar System Observations 2016-2019)
  • An Advanced, Compact, Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer for Planetary Systems (JPL: Research and Technology Development Fund 2015-2018)
  • Sounding Rocket Deployment and Advancement of a High Dynamic Range, High Efficiency, Ultraviolet Photon Counting Imager for Astrophysics, Planetary, Earth, and Space Science (JPL: Strategic University Research Partnership 2017-2019)
  • Advancing the TRL of a Compact, High Dynamic Range Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (NASA: Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration 2017-2020)
  • Coupled Dust and Gas Evolution in the Inner Coma of Comets of Differing Activity Levels (NASA: NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowships 2018-2021, awarded to Cassandra Lejoly)

Current Graduate Students

Former Students

  • John Noonan (PhD 2022)
  • Teddy Kareta (PhD 2021)
  • Cassandra LeJoly (PhD 2021)
  • S. Sona Hosseini (PhD 2015)
  • Ricardo Diaz-Silva (PhD 2015)
  • Jake Bobula (Masters 2013)
  • Frédéric Vincent (PhD 2014)
  • Jason Corliss (PhD 2011)
  • Olivia Dawson (Masters 2007)
  • Toby Neef (Masters 2006)

Current Postdocs

  • Derek Gardner (PhD 2017)

Former Postdocs

  • Yan Betremieux (JPL)
  • Julia Bodnarik (LPL)
  • Jason Corliss (LPL)
  • Louis Giersch (JPL)
  • Jeff Morgenthaler (PSI)
  • Frédéric Vincent (Université de Versailles)


Current Research/Staff Scientists

  • Jason Corliss (Senior Staff Scientist)
  • Ricardo Maciel (Research Technician)
  • Naomi Yescas (Research Technician)
  • Elijah Garcia (Research Technician)
  • Daniel Turong (Research Technician)

Former Research/Staff Scientists

  • Julia Bodnarik (Associate Staff Scientist)


Complete publications list available from: NASA ADS Author Search: Walter M. Harris

Recent refereed publications (NASA ADS): Years 2019 through June 2022

Lisse, C. M., Combi, M. R., Farnham, T. L., Russo, N. Dello, Sandford, S., Cheng, A. F., Fink, U., Harris, W. M., McMahon, J., Scheeres, D. J., Weaver, H. A., & Leary, J. 2022, Acta Astronautica. "Operating spacecraft around comets: Evaluation of the near-nucleus environment"

Kareta, Theodore, Reddy, Vishnu, Sanchez, Juan A., & Harris, Walter M. 2022, The Planetary Science Journal. Near-infrared Spectroscopy of the Nucleus of Low-activity Comet P/2016 BA<SUB>14</SUB> during Its 2016 Close Approach

Lejoly, C., Harris, W., Samarasinha, N., Mueller, B. E. A., Howell, E., Bodnarik, J., Springmann, A., Kareta, T., Sharkey, B., Noonan, J., Bedin, L. R., Bosch, J. -G., Brosio, A., Bryssinck, E., de Vanssay, J. -B., Hambsch, F. -J., Ivanova, O., Krushinsky, V., Lin, Z. -Y., Manzini, F., Maury, A., Moriya, N., Ochner, P., & Oldani, V. 2022, The Planetary Science Journal. Radial Distribution of the Dust Comae of Comets 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdus̆áková and 46P/Wirtanen

Springmann, Alessondra, Harris, Walter M., Ryan, Erin L., Lejoly, Cassandra, Howell, Ellen S., Mueller, Beatrice E. A., Samarasinha, Nalin H., Woodney, Laura M., & Steckloff, Jordan K. 2022, The Planetary Science Journal. Repeating Gas Ejection Events from Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková

Dello Russo, Neil, Vervack, Ronald J., Kawakita, Hideyo, Bonev, Boncho P., DiSanti, Michael A., Gibb, Erika L., McKay, Adam J., Cochran, Anita L., Weaver, Harold A., Biver, Nicolas, Crovisier, Jacques, Bockelée-Morvan, Dominique, Kobayashi, Hitomi, Harris, Walter M., Roth, Nathan X., Saki, Mohammad, & Khan, Younas 2022, The Planetary Science Journal. Volatile Abundances, Extended Coma Sources, and Nucleus Ice Associations in Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)

Kareta, Theodore, Reddy, Vishnu, Pearson, Neil, Sanchez, Juan A., & Harris, Walter M. 2021, The Planetary Science Journal. Investigating the Relationship between (3200) Phaethon and (155140) 2005 UD through Telescopic and Laboratory Studies

Fink, Uwe, Harris, Walter, Doose, Lyn, Volk, Kat, Woodney, Laura, Farnham, Tony, & Womack, Maria 2021, The Planetary Science Journal. Dust Outburst Dynamics and Hazard Assessment for Close Spacecraft-Comet Encounters

Sharkey, Benjamin N. L., Reddy, Vishnu, Sanchez, Juan A., Izawa, Matthew R. M., & Harris, Walter M. 2021, The Planetary Science Journal. Complex Water-ice Mixtures on NII Nereid: Constraints from NIR Reflectance

Kareta, T., Woodney, L. M., Schambeau, C., Fernandez, Y., Pinto, O. H., Wierzchos, K., Womack, M., Bus, S. J., Steckloff, J., Sarid, G., Volk, K., Harris, W. M., Reddy, V. 2021, The Planetary Science Journal Contemporaneous Multiwavelength and Precovery Observations of the Active Centaur P/2019 LD2 (ATLAS)

Kareta, T., Hergenrother, C., Reddy, V., Harris, W. M. 2021, The Planetary Science Journal Surfaces of (Nearly) Dormant Comets and the Recent History of the Quadrantid Meteor Shower

Noonan, J. W., Harris, W. M., Bromley, S., Farnocchia, D., Li, J.-Y., Mandt, K. E., Parker, J. W., Venkataramani, K., Bodewits, D. 2021, The Planetary Science Journal FUV Observations of the Inner Coma of 46P/Wirtanen

Steckloff, J. K., Sarid, G., Volk, K., Kareta, T., Womack, M., Harris, W., Woodney, L., & Schambeau, C. 2020, The Astrophysical Journal. P/2019 LD2 (ATLAS): An Active Centaur in Imminent Transition to the Jupiter Family

Womack, Maria, Sarid, Gal, Harris, Walter, Wierzchos, Kacper, & Woodney, Laura 2020, Minor Planet Bulletin. Call for Observations of the Active Centaur 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann

Bodewits, D., Noonan, J. W., Feldman, P. D., Bannister, M. T., Farnocchia, D., Harris, W. M., Li, J. -Y., Mandt, K. E., Parker, J. Wm., & Xing, Z. -X. 2020, Nature Astronomy. The carbon monoxide-rich interstellar comet 2I/Borisov

Kareta, Theodore, Andrews, Jennifer, Noonan, John W., Harris, Walter M., Smith, Nathan, O'Brien, Patrick, Sharkey, Benjamin N. L., Reddy, Vishnu, Springmann, Alessondra, Lejoly, Cassandra, Volk, Kathryn, Conrad, Albert, & Veillet, Christian 2020, The Astrophysical Journal. Carbon Chain Depletion of 2I/Borisov

Hosseini, Sona & Harris, Walter 2020, Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems. Khayyam, a tunable, cyclical spatial heterodyne spectrometer on Mt. Hamilton

Kareta, Theodore, Sharkey, Benjamin, Noonan, John, Volk, Kat, Reddy, Vishnu, Harris, Walter, & Miles, Richard 2019, The Astronomical Journal. Physical Characterization of the 2017 December Outburst of the Centaur 174P/Echeclus

Noonan, John W., Reddy, Vishnu, Harris, Walter M., Bottke, William F., Sanchez, Juan A., Furfaro, Roberto, Brown, Zarah, Fernandes, Rachel, Kareta, Theodore, Lejoly, Cassandra, Teja Nallapu, Ravi, Niazi, Haris Khan, Slick, Lindsay R., Schatz, Lauren, Sharkey, Benjamin N. L., Springmann, Alessondra, Angle, Geoff, Bailey, Leandra, Acuna, Derian D., Lewin, Collin, Marchese, Katherina, Meshel, Max, Quintero, Natalie, Tatum, Kyle, & Wilburn, Greg 2019, The Astronomical Journal. Search for the H Chondrite Parent Body among the Three Largest S-type Asteroids: (3) Juno, (7) Iris, and (25) Phocaea

Sarid, G., Volk, K., Steckloff, J. K., Harris, W., Womack, M., & Woodney, L. M. 2019, The Astrophysical Journal. 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1, A Centaur in the Gateway to the Jupiter-family Comets

Reddy, Vishnu, Kelley, Michael S., Farnocchia, Davide, Ryan, William H., Thomas, Cristina A., Benner, Lance A. M., Dotson, Jessie, Micheli, Marco, Brucker, Melissa J., Bus, Schelte J., Brozovic, Marina, Wheeler, Lorien, Abbasi, Viqar, Bauer, James M., Bonsall, Amber, Brown, Zarah L., Busch, Michael W., Chodas, Paul, Choi, Young-Jun, Erasmus, Nicolas, Fast, Kelly E., Faucher, John P., Fernandes, Rachel B., Ghigo, Frank D., Gilbank, David G., Giorgini, Jon D., Gustafsson, Annika, Hainaut, Olivier, Harris, Walter M., Jao, Joseph S., Johnson, Lindley S., Kareta, Theodore, Kim, Myung-Jin, Koschny, Detlef, Kramer, Emily A., Landis, Rob R., Laurin, Denis G., Larsen, Jeffrey A., Lee, Clement G., Lejoly, Cassandra, Lister, Tim, McMillan, Robert, Masiero, Joseph R., Mathias, Donovan, Mommert, Michael, Moon, Hong-Kyu, Moskovitz, Nicholas A., Naidu, Shantanu P., Nallapu, Ravi Teja, Niazi, Haris Khan, Noonan, John W., Polishook, David, Ryan, Eileen V., Schatz, Lauren, Scotti, James V., Sharkey, Benjamin, Shustov, Boris M., Sickafoose, Amanda A., Silva, Marc A., Slade, Martin A., Slick, Lindsay R., Snedeker, Lawrence G., Springmann, Alessondra, Tholen, David, Trilling, David E., Vodniza, Alberto Q., Wainscoat, Richard, Weryk, Robert, & Yoshikawa, Makoto 2019, Icarus. Near-Earth asteroid 2012 TC4 observing campaign: Results from a global planetary defense exercise

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