Jasper Halekas

Associate Professor

Ph.D. Physics, University of California Berkeley, 2003


Contact Information

Department of Physics and Astronomy

University of Iowa, 414  Van Allen Hall

Phone: 319-335-1929, FAX: 319-335-1753

Email: jasper-halekas [at] uiowa.edu

Home page: http://www.physics.uiowa.edu/~jhalekas


Biographical Information

I grew up in the woods of north-central Washington state and went to college at the University of Washington (B.S. Physics, B.S. Math, 1997). There I was lucky enough to receive a NASA Space Grant scholarship, and luckier still that the Space Grant program helped me find an undergraduate research position working on data from the Polar spacecraft, setting me on the career track that I’ve followed to the present day. I did my graduate work at Berkeley, where I worked on Lunar Prospector data with Prof. Bob Lin at the Space Sciences Laboratory, and received my Ph.D. in 2003. I stayed on at Berkeley as a postdoc and research scientist for another 11 years, working on Mars Global Surveyor, ARTEMIS, MAVEN, Solar Probe Plus, and other projects. I left Berkeley for Iowa in 2014, when I joined the faculty here as an Associate Professor. When not working on physics, I’m probably at home with my two young children, who are most likely jumping up and down on my head.     


Research Interests

My research is focused on the use of charged particle measurements to infer the structure of magnetic and electric fields around planetary objects and to understand the interaction of the solar wind with our solar system. To accomplish these goals, we design highly sensitive instrumentation, fly it in space, and develop innovative techniques to analyze the data returned. I regard every project that I work on, whether it be hardware development or data analysis, as an opportunity to solve interesting puzzles and learn more about our universe.

A short video summarizing my research  interests is here.

Current Research Projects

My current research program includes a number of different projects:

  • Developing a next-generation electron sensor with higher angular resolution than current instrumentation. 
  • Developing a new type of ion mass composition instrument, relying on unique “ion shutters” rather than the more typical carbon foil technique. 
  • Developing a miniaturized charged particle instrument that could fly on a “Cubesat” 
  • Analyzing data from the MAVEN mission, which aims to understand how Mars lost its ancient atmosphere and was transformed from a warm wet world to the cold dry landscape we see today. 
  • Investigating the interaction of the solar wind the tenuous atmosphere and weak magnetic fields of the Moon, using data from the two-probe ARTEMIS mission
  • Preparing for the upcoming Solar Probe Plus mission, which will dive into the atmosphere of the Sun to determine how the solar wind is accelerated


Selected Publications

J. S. Halekas, A. R. Poppe, W. M. Farrell, J. P. McFadden, Structure and composition of the distant lunar exosphere: ARTEMIS observations of ion acceleration in time-varying fields, Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets), 2016.

J. S. Halekas, D. A. Brain, S. Ruhunusiri, J. P. McFadden, D. L. Mitchell, C. Mazelle, J. E. P. Connerney, Y. Harada, T. Hara, J. R. Espley, G. A. DiBraccio, and B. M. Jakosky. Plasma clouds and snowplows: Bulk plasma escape from Mars observed by MAVEN. Geophysical Research Letters, 43:1426–1434, 2016.

J. S. Halekas, E. R. Taylor, G. Dalton, G. Johnson, D. W. Curtis, J. P. McFadden, D. L. Mitchell, R. P. Lin, and B. M. Jakosky. The Solar Wind Ion Analyzer for MAVEN. Space Sciences Reviews, 195:125–151, 2015.

J. S. Halekas, R. J. Lillis, D. L. Mitchell, T. E. Cravens, C. Mazelle, J. E. P. Connerney, J. R. Espley, P. R. Mahaffy, M. Benna, B. M. Jakosky, J. G. Luhmann, J. P. McFadden, D. E. Larson, Y. Harada, and S. Ruhunusiri. MAVEN observations of solar wind hydrogen deposition in the atmosphere of Mars. Geophysical Research Letters, 42:8901– 8909, 2015.

J. S. Halekas, M. Benna, P. R. Mahaffy, R. C. Elphic, A. R. Poppe, and G. T. Delory. Detections of lunar exospheric ions by the LADEE neutral mass spectrometer. Geophysical Research Letters, 42:5162–5169, 2015.

J. S. Halekas, A. R. Poppe, J. P. McFadden, V. Angelopoulos, K.-H. Glassmeier, and D. A. Brain. Evidence for small-scale collisionless shocks at the Moon from ARTEMIS. Geophysical Research Letters, 41:7436–7443, 2014.



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