Jennifer Heldmann

Planetary scientist
Jennifer Heldmann spearheads robotic and human exploration of the solar system, with an eye to answering the central question: "Are we alone?"

Why you should listen

Jennifer Heldmann is investigating the possibility of life in the universe. Dedicated to human exploration of space, she's working to enable a long-term and sustainable human presence on the Moon, Mars and beyond. A member of NASA's VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) mission science team, she's helping develop real-time protocols and analysis tools for a lunar polar rover mission set to launch in 2023.

A constant theme in Heldmann's work: water. Her Mars research focuses on studies of recent water on the Red Planet through spacecraft data analysis, numerical modeling and fieldwork in Mars-like environments such as the Australian Outback, the Atacama Desert and Antarctica. Heading to these remote places helps identify "geologically recent" liquid water activity and better understand the potential of past (and maybe present) life on Mars. She also studies surface and subsurface ice deposits on the Earth to explore the potential habitability of cold, icy places elsewhere in the solar system. And she looks at ice near the lunar poles to understand the evolution of the solar system. All in the name of enabling humans to one day live on both the Moon and Mars.

Jennifer Heldmann’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Jennifer Heldmann

Live from TED2022

Vision: Notes from Session 5 of TED2022

April 12, 2022

In a classically wide-ranging Session 5 of TED2022, six speakers shared their vision for the future — from building the world’s most powerful telescope to the next generation of the creator economy to finding ways to bridge divides and create peace through unlikely collaborations. The event: Talks from TED2022, Session 5: Vision, hosted by TED’s […]

Continue reading