Jonathan I. Lunine

  • David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences & Chair, Department of Astronomy, Cornell University USA


Jonathan 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 is co-investigator on the Juno mission now in orbit at Jupiter, using data from several instruments on the spacecraft, 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.

Academic biography

Research topics

My areas of research:

  1. Planetary science (solar system exploration), planet formation and the search for life elsewhere in the cosmos. 
  2. The evolution and habitability of moons of the outer solar system; the formation and evolution of giant planets in our own solar system and around other stars.