Renyu Hu, PhD

Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Starshade Scientist, NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program

B.S., Tsinghua University, 2007; M.S., Tsinghua Univerisity, 2009; Diplome d’Ingenieur, Ecole Centrale Paris, 2009; Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013.


I am a planetary astronomer with expertise in modeling the physical and chemical processes that shape the atmospheres on planets and exoplanets. My research strives to identify and characterize habitable environments in the Solar System and beyond, using telescopic, satellite, and in situ measurements.


Astronomers are on the cusp of observing the atmospheres of the first groups of Earth-temperature exoplanets and finding out whether they could host habitable environments. My recent research demonstrated that these temperate worlds will have rich chemistry in the atmosphere, and I have developed a novel method to use James Webb Space Telescope to tell whether temperate sub-Neptune planets have massive atmospheres (i.e., uninhabitable) or thin atmospheres (i.e., potentially habitable). Moreover, we have obtained >100 hours in Cycle 1 of JWST to carry out the first such observations!


Other significant findings on exoplanets:


Recent significant findings on Solar System planets:


I also provide science cases, analyses, and leadership to enable future space missions to better observe and characterize potentially habitable exoplanets. I am Starshade Scientist of the NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program. In this role, I provide science leadership to the Starshade Technology Development to TRL-5 (S5) activity and manage NASA’s Starshade Science and Industry Partnership program, including the Starshade Exoplanet Data Challenge. I am a member of the WFIRST science investigation teams, and my atmosphere models are used to determine what we can learn about exoplanets from direct-imaging observations:


I have created several model tools to simulate important atmospheric processes and to analyze observations:


My curriculum vitae can be found here.

© Hu, Renyu  2021