About Me

I am a research scientist in the Planetary Science section at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I am broadly interested in the origin and evolution of terrestrial bodies in our solar system, and my work has concentrated on investigating how the complex geologic histories of Mars and its moons are preserved in their rock records. I specialize in remote sensing with a focus on visible to near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy. I received a Ph.D. in Earth & Planetary Science from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.S. in Physics and in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University.

Dr. Abigail A. Fraeman

Broad Research Interests


History and evolution of Mars

The past few decades of Mars exploration have shown the planet has undergone periods of dramatic environmental change throughout its history. I investigate rover and orbiter datasets to understand how these changes are preserved in Mars' geologic record, what caused them, and what they can teach us about our own planet and planets outside our solar system.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Phobos and Deimos

The two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, hold clues to the processes of planet formation and the earliest epoch of our solar system. They also have the potential to be stepping-stones for future human exploration of Mars. I am interested in understanding the composition and geologic evolution of these enigmatic moons.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Spectroscopy from the macro- to micro-scale

Reflectance spectroscopy is one of the most effective and widely used techniques for remotely determining the compositions of planetary bodies. By using newly developed instruments than can acquire spectral information at a spatial resolution on the order of tens of micrometers, we can better understand how material properties at this scale inform orbital and ground based measurements at the meter scale and greater.

Meteorite NWA17969a. Red: low-Ca pyroxene, Green: Olivine, Blue: 1000nm absorption

Planetary Mission Participation

Curiosity self portrait

Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover

Participating Scientist

As a participating scientist on the Curiosity science team, I contribute to team-wide discussions and long term strategic planning. I also participate in daily tactical operations through my roles as surface properties scientist (providing assessments of drive terrain), keeper of the plan for the geology theme group (planning daily science activities), and science operations working group documentarian (recording rationale behind science decisions made each day). Most recently I was the strategic science lead for the Vera Rubin Ridge campaign.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM)


CRISM is a visible to near infrared hyperspectral imager onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. As a CRISM Co-I, I contribute to general science team discussions, select targets for the instrument to observe, and have worked to develop techniques for acquiring and processing data that have been oversampled in the along-track direction.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Opportunity self portrait

Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit & Opportunity

Deputy Project Scientist

I first became involved with the Spirit and Opportunity Rover missions as a high school junior through the Planetary Society's Student Astronaut program, and continued to be involved as graduate student where I served as a science operations working group documentarian and science team member. I was appointed deputy project scientist in April, 2016, and in this role work closely with both the engineering and science teams on many aspects of the mission.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

CV Highlights


  • Ph.D. Washington University in St. Louis, 2014
  • A.M. Washington University in St. Louis, 2011
  • B.S. Yale University, 2009

Download My Full CV [pdf]

Last Update: Dec 2018

Recent Fellowships & Awards

  • NASA Early Career Public Achievement Medal, 2018
  • JPL Voyager Award, 2018
  • Keck Institute for Space Studies Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2014-2016
  • Caltech Geological & Planetary Science Div. Texaco Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2014-2016
  • Washington University in St. Louis Graduate School of Arts & Science Student Marshal, 2014
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, 2013, 2015, 2017
  • P.E.O. Scholar Award, 2013
  • Mr. and Mrs. Spencer T. Olin Fellowship for Women in Graduate Study, 2012 - 2014
  • American Geophysics Union Fall Meeting Outstanding Student Paper Award, 2012
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2009-2012

Peer-Reviewed Publications

  1. Fraeman, A., 2018. Commentary: Unraveling the history of Meridiani Planum, Mars: New chemical clues from the rim of Endeavour Crater, JGR: Planets, 123, 3.
  2. Johnon, J., and 11 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2018. Bagnold Dunes campaign Phase 2: Visible/near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy of longitudinal ripple sands, GRL, 45, 18.
  3. McMahon, S., and 9 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2018. A Field Guide to Finding Fossils on Mars, JGR: Planets, 123, 5.
  4. Lapotre, M., and 7 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2017. Compositional Variations in Sands of the Bagnold Dunes at Gale Crater, Mars, from Visible-Shortwave Infrared Spectroscopy and Comparison to Ground-Truth form the Curiosity Rover, JGR: Planets, 122, 12.
  5. Ehlmann, B., and 39 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2017. Chemistry, mineralogy, and grain properties of Namib and High dunes, Bagnold dune field, Gale crater, Mars: A synthesis of Curiosity rover observations, JGR: Planets, 122, 12.
  6. Johnson, J., and 14 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2017. Visible/near-infrared spectral diversity from in situ observations of the Bagnold Dune Field sands in Gale Crater, Mars, JGR: Planets, 122, 12.
  7. Arvidson, R., and 13 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2017. Relating geologic units and mobility system kinematics contributing to Curiosity wheel damage at Gale Crater, Mars, Journal of Terramechanics, 73, SI.
  8. Wellington, D., and 9 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2016. Visible to Near-Infrared MSL/Mastcam Multispectral Imaging: Initial Results from Select High-Interest Science Targets with Gale Crater, Mars, American Mineralogist, 102, 6.
  9. Frydenvang, J., and 42 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2017. Diagenetic silica enrichment and late-stage groundwater activity in Gale Crater, Mars, GRL, 44, 10.
  10. Ehlmann, B., and 46 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2016. The Sustainability of Habitability on Terrestrial Planets: Insights, Questions, and Needed Measurements from Mars for Understanding the Evolution of Earth-like Worlds, JGR: Planets, 121, 10.
  11. Fraeman, A., et al., 2016. The Stratigraphy and Evolution of Lower Mt. Sharp from Spectral, Morphological, and Thermophysical Datasets, Journal of Geophysical Research, 121, 9.
  12. Lapotre, M., and 13 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2016. Large wind ripples on Mars: A record of atmospheric evolution, Science, doi: 10.1126/science.aaf3206.
  13. Johnson, J., and 13 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2016. Constraints on iron sulfate and iron oxide mineralogy from ChemCam visible/near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy of Mt. Sharp basal units, Gale Crater, Mars, American Mineralogist, doi: 10.2138/am-2016-5553.
  14. Arvidson, R., and 10 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2016. Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Megaripple Crossings up to Sol 710 in Gale Crater, Journal of Field Robotics, doi: 10.1002/rob.21647.
  15. Stack Morgan, K., and 14 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2016. Comparing orbiter and rover image-based mapping of an ancient sedimentary environment, Aeolis Palus, Gale crater, Mars, Icarus, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2016.02.024.
  16. Greenberger, R., and 7 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2015. Imaging Spectroscopy of Geological Samples and Outcrops: Novel Insights from Microns to Meters, GSA Today, doi: 10.1130/GSATG252A.1.
  17. Seelos, K., and 7 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2014. Mineralogy of the MSL Curiosity landing site in Gale crater as observed by MRO/CRISM, Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1002/2014GRL060310.
  18. Arvidson, R., and 25 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2014. Terrain physical properties derived from orbital data and the first 360 sols of Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover operations in Gale Crater, Journal Geophysical Research, doi: 10.1002/2013JE004605.
  19. Fraeman, A., et al 2014. Spectral absorptions on Phobos and Deimos in the visible/near infrared wavelengths and their compositional constraints, Icarus, doi: 10.1016/j.icarus.2013.11.021
  20. Grotzinger, J., and 72 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2013. A habitable fluvio-lacustrine environment at Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars, Science, doi:10.1126/science.1242777.
  21. Fraeman, A., et al. 2013. A hematite-bearing layer in Gale Crater: mapping and implications for past aqueous conditions, GEOLOGY,doi:10.1130/G43613.1
  22. Fraeman, A., et al., 2012. Analysis of disk-resolved OMEGA and CRISM spectral observations of Phobos and Deimos, Journal of Geophysical Research, doi:10.1029/2012JE004137.
  23. Diniega, S., and 18 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2012. Mission to the Trojan Asteroids: lessons learned during a JPL Planetary Science Summer School mission design exercise, Planetary and Space Science, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2012.11.011.
  24. Ehlmann, B., and 7 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2011. Clay formation environments and potential habitats on early Mars, Nature, doi:10.1038/nature10582
  25. Fraeman, A. and Korenaga, J. 2010. The influence of mantle melting on the evolution of Mars, Icarus, doi:10.1016/j.icaurs.2010.06.030
  26. McGuire, P., and 14 others inc. Fraeman, A., 2009. An improvement to the volcano-scan algorithm for atmospheric correction of CRISM and OMEGA spectral data, Planetary and Space Sciences, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2009.03.007