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Office: Room 280-T, Bldg. 245
Mail: M/S 245-6, Moffett Field, CA 94035
Phone: 650 - 604 - 2737
Fax: 650 - 604- 6779
Email: Ella.M.Sciammaobrien at nasa.gov
LinkedIn: ella-sciamma-o-brien

Ella Sciamma-O'Brien

Professional Biography:

From 2003 to 2007, Dr. Sciamma-O'Brien pursued a Ph.D. in plasma physics at the University of Texas at Austin developing plasma emission spectroscopic diagnostic tools to determine the electron temperature and neutral density in the plasma produced in the VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) prototype, a plasma propulsion concept for the human missions to Mars.

After graduating from her Ph.D., Dr. Sciamma-O'Brien shifter her focus to laboratory astrophysics and planetary science. She has worked on several laboratory experiments simulating Titan's atmospheric chemistry, studying the chemical and physical properties of both the gas and solid phases (mass spectrometry, infrared absorption spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, x-ray absorption near edge structure, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, secondary ion mass spectrometry, spectroscopic ellipsometry).

As a member of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Sciamma-O'Brien has been working on the Titan Haze Simulation (THS) experiment, developed on the NASA Ames Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmiC). She has demonstrated how the unique design of the THS can simulate the first and intermediate steps of Titan's atmospheric chemistry and aerosol production at cold-, Titan-like temperature, and how the THS data can help with the interpretation of observational data. In recent years, she has developed a new laboratory optical constant facility at NASA Ames that will allow the determination of critical optical constants from Near-Infrared to Far Infrared of various solid materials relevant to planetary science and astrophysical applications.

As a scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Sciamma-O'Brien has authored and co-authored several successful grants. She regularly serves on NASA Review Panels, has reviewed scientific articles in various journals (Icarus, Planetary and Space Science, Nature), and has been chair of sessions in various scientific conferences as well as a member of Science Organizing and Local Organizing Committees for several workshops and symposiums. She is a founding editor of AstroPAH, a monthly newsletter created in 2013 that gathers news and abstracts related to astronomical Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and related research.


2003-2007: Ph.D. in plasma physics and electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and jointly with the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France

1999-2002: M.S. in Electrical Engineering at Ecole Polytechnique Universitaire de Lille, France

Selected Publications:

Gavilan Marin, L., Bejaoui, S., Gate, G., Haggemark, M, deVries M., Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Salama, F., 2020, Low-temperature formation of carbonaceous dust grains from PAHs, The Astrophysics Journal ApJ 889:2.

Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Raymond A.W., Dubois, D., Mazur, E., Salama, F., 2020, The Titan Haze Simulation Experiment: Investigating Titan's Low-temperature Atmospheric Chemistry in a Pulsed Plasma Jet Expansion, Proceedings of the IAU S350 Laboratory Astrophysics Symposium, (in press).

Dubois, D., Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Iraci, L.T., Barth, E., Salama, F., Vinatier, S., 2020, C6H6 Condensation on Titan's Stratospheric Aerosols: An Integrated Laboratory, Modeling and Experimental Approach, Proceedings of the IAU S350 Laboratory Astrophysics Symposium, (in press).

Dubois, D., Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Fortenberry, R.C., 2019, The Fundamental Vibrational Frequencies and Spectroscopic Constants of the Dicyanoamine Anion, NCNCN- (C2N3 -): Quantum Chemical Analysis for Astrophysical and Planetary Environments, The Astrophysical Journal 883, Issue 1, article id. 109, 6 pp.

Raymond, A. W, Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Salama, F, Mazur, E., “A Model of Titan-like Chemistry to Connect Experiments and Cassini Observations”, The Astrophysical Journal 853, 107, 2018

Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Upton, K.T., Beauchamp, J.L., Salama, F., "The Titan Haze Simulation (THS) Experiment on COSmIC Part II: Early Stages of Aerosol Production at Low Temperature", Icarus 289, 214-226, 2017

Sciamma-O'Brien, E. et al. The THS experiment: simulating Titan's atmospheric chemistry at low temperature (200 K), Proceedings IAU 11(A29A), 327-328, 2015

Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Ricketts, C.L., Salama, F., "The Titan Haze Simulation experiment on COSmIC: Probing Titan's atmospheric chemistry at low temperature", Icarus, 243, 325, 2014

Allodi, M.A., Baragiola, R.A., Baratta, G.A., Barucci, M.A., Blake, G.A., Boduch, P., Brucato, J.R., Contreras, C., Cuylle, S.H., Fulvio, D., Gudipati, M.S., Ioppolo, S., Kaňuchovà, Z., Lignell, A., Linnartz, H., Palumbo, M.E., Raut, U., Rothard, H., Salama, F., Savchenko, E.V., Sciamma-O'Brien, G., Strazzulla, G., "Complementary and Emerging Techniques for Astrophysical Ices Processed in the Laboratory", Space Sci. Reviews, 180, 101, 2013

Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Dahoo, P.R., Hadamcik, E., Carrasco, N., Quirico, E., Szopa, C., Cernogora, G., "Optical constants of Titan tholins produced in a plasma discharge from 370 nm to 900 nm", Icarus, 218, 356, 2012

Hörst, S.M., Yelle, R.V., Buch, A., Carrasco, N., Cernogora, G., Dutuit, O., Quirico, E., Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Smith, M.A., Somogyi, A., Szopa, C., Thissen, R., Vuitton, V., "Formation of Amino Acids and Nucleotide Bases in a Titan Atmosphere Simulation Experiment", Astrobiology, 12, 1, 2012

Gautier, T., Carrasco, N., Buch, A., Szopa, C., Sciamma-O'Brien, E., "Nitrile chemistry in Titan atmosphere", Icarus, 213, 625, 2011

Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Carrasco, N., Szopa, C., Buch, A., Cernogora, G., "Titan's atmosphere: an optimal gas mixture for aerosol production?" Icarus, 209, 704, 2010

Vuitton, V., Bonnet, J.Y., Frisari, M., Thissen, R., Quirico, E., Dutuit, O., Schmitt, B., Le Roy, L., Fray, N., Cottin, H., Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Carrasco, N., Szopa, C., "Very high resolution mass spectrometry of HCN polymers and Titan's tholins", Faraday Discussion, 147, 495, 2010

Ventrillard-Courtillot, I., Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Kassi, S., Méjean, G., Romanini, D., "Simultaneous Detection of NO₂ and NO₃ by Cavity Enhanced Absorption Spectroscopy with a LED at 625 nm", Applied Physics B, 101, 661, 2010

Sciamma-O'Brien, E., Kassi, S., Gao, B., Campargue, A., "Experimental low energy values of CH₄ transitions near 1.33 micron by absorption spectroscopy at 81 K", J. Quant. Spectrosc. Radiat. Transfer, 110, 95, 2009

Sciamma, E.M., Bengtson, R.D., Rowan, W.L., Keesee, A., Lee, C.A., Berisford, D., Lee, K., Gentle, K., "Method to Estimate the Electron Temperature and Neutral Density in a Plasma from Spectroscopic Measurements Using Argon Atom and Ion Collisional-Radiative Models", Rev. Sci. Instrum., 79, 10E324, 2008