Dr. Tanya Harrison

Academic & Research Employment

Washington, DC | Toronto, ON
ORCID: 0000-0001-8667-3115

Manager of Science Programs Planet Federal | Washington, DC | June 2019–present

  • Strategy and business development with federal civilian agencies to incorporate Planet imagery into a variety of scientific research applications
  • Liasion between Planet and the NASA research community
  • Facilitate relationship-building across governemnt agencies and national labs
  • Collaborator on research proposals with scientists using Planet imagery

Director of Research and Post-Doctoral Fellow Space Technology and Science (NewSpace) Initiative, Arizona State University | Tempe, AZ | Aug 2016–June 2019

  • Business development liaison working to create links between academia and the entrepreneurial commercial space sector by facilitating partnerships on NASA. DoD, NSF, DARPA, etc., proposals on both the research and business development side
  • Project manager for student payload flights aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle
  • Led discussions between ASU and Planet to become their first embedded academic partner
  • Mars geomorphology research focusing on surface processes and landing sites for the 2020 rover
  • Payload Downlink Lead and Science Team Collaborator for NASA’s Opportunity rover
  • Science team collaborator for the Mars 2020 rover Mastcam-Z cameras

Research Assistant Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration, University of Western Ontario | London, ON | May 2014–Aug 2016

  • Content lead for the Interactive Mapping of Mars (iMARS) web tool: Designed rover challenges and wrote associated KML files; created figures and descriptions of martian landforms for tutorials
  • Editor for the Geological Association of Canada Planetary Sciences Division Newsletter
  • In charge of the Geological Association of Canada Planetary Sciences Division Twitter feed (@pgg_canadian)
  • Interim Public Outreach Coordinator from Sept–Dec 2014, which involved training and leading a group of 7 outreach assistants and a pool of volunteers in order to run outreach events with local K-12 classes Web Editor Intern The Planetary Society | Pasadena, CA | May 2013–Jan 2020
  • Edit and write blog articles on a variety of space-related topics intended to educate the public
  • Update the society’s space image gallery to showcase amateur-processed images
  • Migrate web content to the Society’s new web server and database

Public Outreach/Teaching Assistant University of Western Ontario | London, ON | Sept 2012–Aug 2014

  • Organized and executed public outreach events and projects such as interactive web activities, museum exhibits, and in-classroom educational activities for students from grades K–12 for Western’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration
  • Graded essays, assignments, and lab reports, and answered student questions for the sophomore-level Earth Sciences department course “Catastrophic Events in Earth History”

Assistant Staff Scientist Malin Space Science Systems | San Diego, CA | Aug 2008–May 2012

  • Targeted thousands of images for NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) as a mission operations specialist, helping to map out over 80% of Mars at an unprecedented resolution and resulting in a group achievement award from NASA
  • Monitored the martian weather to watch for any potential threats to the Spirit and Opportunity rovers using the MRO Mars Color Imager (MARCI), alerting the rover team when necessary to help them avoid damage to their instruments
  • Aided in pre-launch and cruise-phase testing of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (“Curiosity”) rover Mast Camera, Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) cameras in preparation for Mars surface operations of the rover
  • Overhauled and maintained the company website to create a more modern and easier-to-use interface for the general public
  • Initiated a more active education and public outreach program at the company to increase visibility of CTX, MARCI, the Curiosity cameras, and the Juno mission to Jupiter, including setting up job shadowing experiences with the local Girl Scouts and creating educational activities for girls in the Expanding Your Horizons program

Researcher II University of Washington Department of Astronomy | Seattle, WA | Jun 2008–Aug 2008

  • Processed Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 data using IRAF and Microsoft Excel to study the photometry of open clusters in the Andromeda Galaxy

Teaching Assistant Wesleyan University Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences | Middletown, CT | Aug 2006–May 2008

  • Led lab sessions and lectures, graded assignments, and assisted on field trips for the following courses (freshman through junior-level): Introduction to Environmental Sciences; Introduction to Planetary Geology; Geology of Connecticut; Global Climate Change

Researcher University of Washington Department of Earth and Space Sciences | Seattle, WA | Jun 2006–Aug 2006

  • Processed MODIS AQUA/TERRA satellite data of the Antarctic Dry Valleys using ENVI and ArcGIS to look for snow cover events, leading to a first-author abstract presented at the annual fall American Geophysical Union meeting

Researcher University of Washington Department of Astronomy | Seattle, WA | Jun 2006–Aug 2006

  • Processed ground-based spectroscopic data of the recurring novae RS Ophiuchi and T Coronae Borealis to determine metallicities, resulting in the discovery of a lithium enhancement in recurring novae relative to other binary star systems, and a publication in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Public Outreach Involvement
The Planetary Society Pasadena, CA | 2010–2012

  • Provided processed CTX images, anaglyphs, and mosaics for blog articles for public engagement; wrote a blog article to increase public awareness of the CTX and MARCI cameras

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Pasadena, CA | 2011–2012

  • Staffed the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter booth at JPL’s annual Open House to educate members of the general public of all ages and backgrounds on Mars
  • Created CTX mosaics, anaglyphs, and visual aids in support of the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission to be used by both the scientific community as well as for education and public outreach purposes

Expanding Your Horizons San Diego, CA | 2010–2011

  • Designed and led Mars-related activities for girls in grades 8–12 to spark their interest in careers in science

Norwescon Seattle, WA | 2000–2010

  • Head of programming for the space (2000–2006; 2010), science (2000–2006), and astrophysics (2009) tracks for the largest science fiction convention in the Pacific Northwest
  • Created topical panels and searched for appropriate panelists in the field (e.g., professors, authors, engineers)
  • Scheduled the timing of panels to work with the schedules of the panelists and the convention as a whole

Pacific Science Center Seattle, WA | 2000–2003

  • Staffed exhibits throughout the museum in order to communicate a range of scientific and historical topics to a diverse audience; butterfly house interpreter; rat handler

Television, Radio, and Podcast Appearances

  • Project Geospatial podcast (2020)
  • Future Fossils podcast (2020)
  • The Blunt Report podcast (2020)
  • Newstalk 1010 Radio (2020)
  • BBC Radio (2019)
  • ABC News Australia (2019)
  • Al Jazeera English (2018–2019)
  • Mission Eve podcast (2019)
  • Friday Night Book Club podcast (2019)
  • iTV24 Stateside with David Shuster (2018–2019)
  • WGN Radio (2019)
  • CBC Radio The Current (2018)
  • NPR Phoenix KJZZ The Show (2018)
  • KFYI AM 550 Phoenix (2018)
  • talkRADIO UK Paul Ross Show (2018–2020)
  • Off-Nominal podcast (2018)
  • Fox10 Phoenix News (2018–2019)
  • AZ Channel 12 News (2018–2019)
  • NPR Phoenix (2018–2019)
  • Federal News Network (2018)
  • TRT World Radio (2018)
  • The Weather Channel WX Geeks (2017)
  • TechDirt podcast (2016)
  • WeMartians podcast (2016)
  • AM650 CKOM radio (2015)
  • Western Worlds radio (2013)

Books (non-academic)

  • Harrison, T. and D. Bednar (2020), For All Humankind: The Untold Stories of How the Moon Landing Inspired the World. Mango Publishing, Coral Gables, FL, 200 pgs.

Print Articles

  • “After Oppy, an Opportunity for NASA to work with SpaceX.” Houston Chronicle, February 21, 2019
  • “The past and present of water on Mars.” Astronomy Magazine (cover article), July 2017 issue
  • “Why do Earthlings care so much about Mars?” The Globe and Mail, September 29, 2015

Online Articles

  • “After working on Mars, I’ll never see Earth the same way again.” Medium, April 22, 2020.
  • “Monitoring martian weather, Part 1: On the ground.” Medium, February 26, 2019.
  • “The night NASA said goodbye to Oppy.” Medium, February 13, 2019.
  • “Inspirational women in space: Peggy Whitson.” Medium, January 9, 2019.
  • “The top 10 things to look forward to on Mars in 2019.” Medium, January 1, 2019.
  • “What is winter like on Mars?” Medium, December 31, 2018.
  • “Dusty skies for Opportunity.” Medium, June 11, 2018.
  • “The curious case of methane on Mars.” Medium, June 7, 2018.
  • “Mars Phoenix Lander: 10 years later.” Medium, May 28, 2018.
  • “Galileo proves old data can still yield new tricks.” Medium, May 15, 2018.
  • “Chasing the total solar eclipse at 38,000 feet.” The Planetary Society, August 24, 2017.
  • “Keeping an eye on climate change.” Slate Future Tense, March 27, 2017.
  • “Will the real culprit behind Mars’ gullies please stand up?” Astronomy Magazine, August 16, 2016.
  • “LPSC 2016: Martian geomorphology.” The Planetary Society, April 4, 2016.
  • “A workhorse at Mars.” The Planetary Society, September 11, 2015.
  • “Help map Mars’ south polar region!” The Planetary Society, July 24, 2015.
  • “Canadian Mars Analogue Mission: Field Report, Week 2.” The Planetary Society, August 28, 2014.
  • “Canadian Mars Analogue Mission: Field Report, Week 1.” The Planetary Society, August 20, 2014.
  • “MAVEN Launches!” The Planetary Society, September 18, 2013.
  • “MAVEN NASA Social: Day 2.” The Planetary Society, November 18, 2013.
  • “MAVEN NASA Social: Day 1”. The Planetary Society, November 17, 2013.
  • “CTX and MARCI—The OTHER cameras on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.” The Planetary Society, January 25, 2010.

Invited Speaking Engagements

  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Engineering Colloquium (2019)
  • NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (2019, recurring)
  • SEDS Spacevision 2019 opening keynote speaker (2019)
  • re:MARS (2019)
  • VivaTech (2019)
  • Breakthrough Discuss (2019)
  • Steamboat Weather Summit (2019)
  • University of Toronto Scarborough (2019)
  • Phoenix Public Library (2019)
  • Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) West, Seattle (2018)
  • Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre (2018)
  • Ontario Science Centre Marsfest (2018)
  • Royal Astronomical Society of Canada General Assembly, Calgary (2018)
  • TEDxASU (2018)
  • Satellite 2018 SDx (2018)
  • Badass Ladies of ASU event (2017)
  • Long Beach Comic-Con (2017)
  • Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Mississauga Centre (2017)
  • Idaho Star Party keynote speaker (2017)
  • Los Alamos National Labs (2017)
  • March for Science Toronto (2017)
  • IEEE Nuclear and Space Radiation Effects Conference keynote speaker (2017)
  • Lucasfilm (2016)
  • Students for the Exploration and Development of Space Canada Ascension keynote speaker (2016)
  • Zonta International Meeting, Stratford, Ontario (2015)
  • Western Staff and Leaders Conference (2013)
  • Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, London Centre (2013)
  • University of Western Ontario Mars Science Laboratory Rover Landing Event (2012)
  • National Space Society, Seattle Chapter (2000, 2009, 2011, 2015–2017)
  • San Diego Astronomy Association (2010)
  • CascadiaCon (2005)
  • VikingCon (2000)
  • Norwescon (1999–2007) Science Consulting
  • Script writer and host of the YouTube series “How to Build a Spaceship” for Honeywell Aerospace (2018– 2020)
  • Mars consultant for video game production at IDEO, San Francisco (2016)
  • Science consultant for various sci-fi authors (2016–present)
  • Science consultant for “Mars Two” show pitched to the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) (2014)


Ph.D. Geology with a Specialization in Planetary Science and Exploration, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, August 2016 Thesis: Martian Gully Formation and Evolution: Studies from the Local to Global Scale

Relevant coursework: Impact Cratering; Remote Sensing; Planetary Science Field School M.A. Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, May 2008

Thesis: Origin and Composition of the Light-Toned Layered Deposits in Iani Chaos, Mars Relevant coursework: Geomorphology; Introduction to GIS; Mineralogy; Hydrology; Petrology; Structural Geology B.Sc. Physics and Astronomy (double major), University of Washington, Seattle, WA, June 2006

Relevant coursework: Introduction to Glaciology; Observational Astronomy; Stellar Observation and Theory; Thermal Physics; Electromagnetism; Quantum Mechanics

NASA & Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Project Participation

  • Ice Investigation lead, Mars Orbiters for Surface, Atmosphere, and Ionosphere Connections (MOSAIC) funded mission concept for the NASA Planetary Science Decadal Survey (2019– present)
  • Science Team Collaborator, Mars 2020 Rover Mastcam-Z (2017–2019)
  • Science Team Collaborator, Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity Pancam (2016–2019)
  • CSA CanMars Mars Sample Return Analogue Mission (2015)
  • CSA Mars Analogue Missions (2013–2014)
  • NASA Planetary Science Summer School (2012)
  • Science Team Collaborator, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Mastcam, Mars Descent Imager, & Mars Hand Lens Imager (2010–2012)
  • Science Operations Team, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Mastcam, Mars Descent Imager, & Mars Hand Lens Imager cameras (2010–2012)
  • Science Operations Team, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera (2008–2012)
  • Science Operations Team, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars Color Imager (2008–2012)


  • GEOINT Golden Ticket (2020)
  • Future Space Leader (2019)
  • Via Satellite’s Young People to Watch List (2018)
  • Geological Society of America Paul Pellas-Graham Ryder Award for Best Student Paper in Planetary Sciences (2016)
  • Amelia Earhart Fellowship (2014 & 2015)
  • Geological Society of America On to the Future Award (2014)
  • University of Western Ontario Research Western Award (2014)
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (2014)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, presented to the Mars Science Laboratory Mastcam, MAHLI, & MARDI instruments team (2013)
  • Lunar and Planetary Institute Career Development Award (2013)
  • NSERC CREATE Technologies and Techniques for Space Exploration Ph.D. Fellowship (2012)
  • NSERC CREATE Canadian Astrobiology Training Program Ph.D. Fellowship (2012)
  • University of Western Ontario Graduate Research Scholarship (2012–2014)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, presented to the MRO MARCI/CTX science team (2011)
  • NASA Connecticut Space Grant Scholar (2008)
  • GSN Get Schooled Games Tour Seattle 529 College Savings Plan Winner (2004)
  • Washington Promise Scholar (2003)


  • Harrison, T. N., G. R. Osinski, L. L. Tornabene, and C. M. Stuurman, Late Amazonian geologic history of Western Utopia Planitia, Mars. Accepted to Icarus.
  • Adler, J., J. F. Bell, P. Fawdon, J. David, N. Warner, E. Sefton-Nash, and T. N. Harrison (2019), Hypotheses for the origin of the Hypanis fan-shaped deposit at the edge of the Chryse Escarpment, Mars: Is it a Delta? Icarus 319, 885–908.
  • Godin, E., G. R. Osinski, A. J. Pontefract, T. N. Harrison, and M. Zanetti (2019). Geomorphology of gullies at the Thomas Lee Inlet, Devon Island, Canadian High Arctic. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 30, 19–34.
  • Tornabene, L. L., W. Watters, G. R. Osinski, J. Boyce, T. N. Harrison, V. Ling, and A. McEwen (2018), Revised Depth-Diameter Scaling Relationships Based on the Recognition of Best- Preserved and Deepest Martian Craters. Icarus 299, 68–83.
  • Conway, S. J., T. N. Harrison, and S. R. Lewis (2018), Martian gullies and their connection with the martian climate. In: Soare, R. J., S. J. Conway, and S. M. Clifford (eds) Dynamic Mars: Recent and Current Landscape Evolution of the Red Planet. Elsevier, Cambridge, MA, ISBN: 978-0-12- 813018-6.
  • Conway, S. J., T. de Haas, and T. N. Harrison (2018), Martian gullies: A comprehensive review of observations, mechanisms and the insights from Earth analogues. In: Conway, S. J., J. L. Carravick, P. A. Carling, T. de Haas, and T. Harrison (eds) Martian Gullies and Their Earth Analogues. Geological Society of London Special Publications 467, doi:10.1144/SP467.14.
  • Conway, S. J., T. de Haas, T. N. Harrison, P. A. Carling, and J. Carravick (2018), Martian gullies and their Earth analogues: Introduction. In: Conway, S. J., J. L. Carravick, P. A. Carling, T. de Haas, and T. Harrison (eds) Martian Gullies and Their Earth Analogues. Geological Society of London Special Publications 467, doi:10.1144/SP467.15.
  • Harrison, T. N., L. L. Tornabene, G. R. Osinski, and S. J. Conway. Thermal inertia variations from recent gully and mass wasting activity in Gasa Crater, Mars. (2017), In: Conway, S. J., J. L. Carravick, P. A. Carling, T. de Haas, and T. Harrison (eds) Martian Gullies and Their Earth Analogues. Geological Society of London Special Publications 467, doi:10.1144/SP467.3.
  • Conway, S. J., T. N. Harrison, R. J. Soare, A. Britton, and L. J. Steele. New slope-normalized global gully density and orientation maps for Mars (2017), In: Conway, S. J., J. L. Carravick, P. A. Carling, T. de Haas, and T. Harrison (eds) Martian Gullies and Their Earth Analogues. Geological Society of London Special Publications 467, doi:10.1144/SP467.3.
  • Tornabene, L. L., F. P. Seelos, A. Pommerol, N. Thomas, C. M. Caudill, P. Becerra, J. C. Bridges, S. Byrne, M. Cardinale, M. Chojnacki, S. J. Conway, G. Cremonese, C. M. Dundas, M. R. El-Maary, J. Fernando, C. J. Hansen, T. N. Harrison, R. Henson, L. Marinangeli, A. S. McEwen, M. Pajola, S. S. Sutton, and J. J. Wray (2017), Image simulation and assessment of the colour and spatial capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Space Science Reviews, doi:10.1007/s11214-01700436-7.
  • Suer, T., S. Padovan, J. Whitten, R. W. Potter, S. Shkolyar, M. Cable, C. C. Walker, J. Szalay, C. Parker, J. Cumbers, D. Gentry, T. Harrison, S. Naidu, H. Trammel, J. Reimuller, C. Budney, and L. L. Lowes (2017), FIRE: Flyby of Io with Repeat Encounters: A conceptual design for a New Frontiers mission to Io. Advances in Space Research, doi:10.1016/j.asr.2017.05.019.
  • Harrison, T. N., G. R. Osinski, and L. L. Tornabene (2015), Global Documentation of Gullies with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera and Implications for Their Formation. Icarus 252, 236–324.
  • Williams, R. M. E., R. P. Irwin III, D. M. Burr, T. N. Harrison, and P. McClelland (2013), Variability in Martian Sinuous Ridge Form: Case Study of Aeolis Serpens in the Aeolis Dorsa, Mars, and Insights from the Mirackina Paleoriver, South Australia. Icarus 225, 308–324.
  • Harrison, T. N., M. S. Gilmore, and J. P. Greenwood (2012), Experimental VNIR Reflectance Spectroscopy of Gypsum Dehydration: Investigating the Gypsum to Bassanite Transition. American Mineralogist 97, 598–609.
  • Harrison, T. N., M. C. Malin, K. S. Edgett, D. E. Shean, M. R. Kennedy, L. J. Lipkaman, B. A. Cantor, and L. V. Posiolova (2010), Impact-Induced Overland Fluid Flow and Channelized Erosion at Lyot Crater, Mars. Geophysical Research Letters 37, L21201.
  • Byrne, S., C. M. Dundas, M. R. Kennedy, M. T. Mellon, A. S. McEwen, S. C. Cull, I. J. Daubar, D. E. Shean, K. D. Seelos, S. L. Murchie, B A. Cantor, R. E. Arvidson, K. S. Edgett, A. Reufer, N. Thomas, T. N. Harrison, L. V. Posiolova, and F. P. Seelos (2009), Distribution of Mid-Latitude Ground Ice on Mars from New Impact Craters, Science 325, 1674–1676.
  • Wallerstein, G., T. Harrison, U. Munari, and A. Vanture (2008), The Metallicity of Lithium Abundances of the Recurring Novae T CrB and RS Oph, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 120, 867, 492–497.


  • American Geophysical Union
  • Geological Society of America
  • Space Generation Advisory Council

Relevant Skills

  • Mapping software: ArcGIS, KML, GDAL, ENVI, JMARS, USGS ISIS
  • Astronomical data processing: IRAF, MOOG
  • General image processing: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator