About Me


Nathan T. Stein

I'm a planetary science PhD student at Caltech. I'm broadly interested in the remote sensing of planetary surfaces and development of novel imaging platforms and techniques. 
I'm a student collaborator on the ongoing Curiosity mission through my advisor, John Grotzinger. I use data from Curiosity's Mastcam and MAHLI images to systematically measure bedding geometries and lamination along the rover's traverse through the Murray fm. to improve our understanding of the ancient lacustrine setting in Gale Crater. I also work on the Curiosity mission as a surface properties scientist, a job that mostly entails me making sure the rover avoids sharp rocks.
I'm also a collaborator on the Dawn mission with Bethany Ehlmann. My focus is on the formation and evolution of anomalously bright Na-carbonate-bearing regions on Ceres' surface, which reveal recent and potentially ongoing endogenic activity. This work combines observations from Dawn's VIR and FC instruments with computational modeling of impact statistics.
I also do some work on Earth in a modern carbonate environment on an uninhabited island in the Turks and Caicos. Across several field campaigns, we've conducted extensive mapping of the island using drone-based photogrammetry and spectroscopy (with a miniaturized VNIR imaging spectrometer) and more traditional surveying techniques to understand the extent to which the morphology of microbial mats on the island is controlled by environmental factors. I got stuck down there during a hurricane once too, which makes for a good story. Right now I am collaborating with a team of engineers in Caltech's Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST) to build a fully autonomous drone (and an equally cool autonomous box) that will be permanently housed on the island. 
I received a bachelor's degree in physics and geophysics from Washington University in St. Louis in 2015.