Yvonne Pendleton
Chief Scientist
Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute
NASA Ames Research Center M/S: 17-1
Moffett Field, CA. 94035
Office: 650.604.4391


Dr. Yvonne Pendleton is the Chief Scientist of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. Pendleton joined NASA Ames in July 1979 having earned her Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Under NASA sponsored programs, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University (1981) and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of California at Santa Cruz (1987). As a research astrophysicist in the Space Science and Astrobiology Division from 1979-2005, Yvonne published 80 scientific papers and contributed significantly to our understanding of the origin and evolution of organic material in the universe. The goal of her ongoing research program is to understand the composition of the organic material found in the interstellar medium and to investigate the incorporation of the organic material from space into the early Earth environment. She is an elected fellow of the California Academy of Science and Asteroid 7165Pendleton was named in honor of her research contributions. In 2014, Yvonne was named one of the most influential women in Silicon Valley by the San Jose Business Journal, and in 2015 she was honored with one of NASA’s highest awards, the Outstanding Leadership Medal for her success in guiding teams through challenging transitions.

Appointed Chief of the Space Science and Astrobiology Division at NASA Ames Research Center in 2005, she led a scientific and technical staff of 160 people. When asked to serve as the senior advisor for research and analysis programs for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, she moved to Washington, DC from 2007-8. There she provided independent assessments and guidance to the Associate Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate concerning NASA’s science research programs and increased scientific productivity across the nation as the time required to evaluate and award research grants was significantly reduced. During that time she was also responsible for the Education and Public Outreach of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and led a team that managed the nearly 50 million dollar investment made in EPO activities, including those from NASA’s science missions. Returning to NASA Ames in July of 2008, Yvonne became the Deputy Associate Center Director where she provided guidance and direction to several collaborative scientific and technical efforts and served as an academic Dean of Students for the several hundred students on the Ames campus each summer.

Named Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute in 2010, Yvonne guided the virtual institute into a larger realm when it became the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) in 2013. As the Director of SSERV, Yvonne oversaw a 15M annual budget and the activities of more than 300 researchers across the nation. SSERVI also maintains active collaborations with 9 international partnerships.

Yvonne has been very active in education and public outreach throughout her career. She served as the Director for Research for the NASA Ames Astrobiology Academy in 2004, developed the Voyages Through Time education curricula with the SETI Institute, served as an astronomer to local classrooms for over a decade with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and taught astronomy at the college level as an adjunct lecturer at Santa Clara University.

To read more about Yvonne, please read “A Lifetime Spent Studying the Stars, Searching for Answers”, a biography of Dr. Yvonne Pendleton on the official NASA-Ames Research Center website.


  1. Further Studies on Criteria for the Onset of Dynamical Instability in General Three-Body Systems (1983)
  2. New Infrared Observations of the OMC-2 cluster (1983)
  3. New Infrared Observations of IRS1, IRS3 and the Adjacent Nebula in the OMC-2 Cluster. Proc. Workshop on Laboratory and Observational Infrared Spectra of Interstellar Dust (1984)
  4. Infrared Reflection Nebulae in Orion Molecular Cloud 2 (1986)
  5. The 3.1 Micron Ice Band in Infrared Reflection Nebulae. Proc. Summer School on Interstellar Processes (1986)
  6. Analysis of Dust Grain Properties in Two Star Forming Regions. Thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz. Galactic and Extragalactic Star Formation (1988)
  7. Solar Mass Clumps in the B5 Core. Submillimetre Astronomy (1988)
  8. Dust Grains in Infrared Reflection Nebulae, Interstellar Dust IAU #135 (1989)
  9. Infrared Studies of Dust Grains In Infrared Reflection Nebulae, Interstellar Dust: Contributed Papers (1989)
  10. Can the Chirality of the ISM Be Measured?, Carbon in the Galaxy (1990)
  11. Studies of Dust Grain Properties in Infrared Reflection Nebulae (1990)
  12. Two Micron Imaging Polarimetry of the Galactic Center Region (1990)
  13. The Interstellar C-H Stretching Band Near 3.4 µm: Constraints on the Composition of Organic Material in the Diffuse Interstellar Medium (1991)
  14. The Interstellar C-H Stretching Band Near 3.4 µm: Constraints on the Composition of Organic Material in the Diffuse ISM (1992)
  15. Nova Cygni 1992 (1992)
  16. Organics in the Diffuse Interstellar Medium (1993)
  17. Infrared Spectroscopy of Organic Material in Diffuse Interstellar Clouds (1994)
  18. Life From the Stars? (1994)
  19. Near-Infrared Absorption Spectroscopy of Interstellar Hydrocarbon Grains (1994)
  20. Development of a Polarimeter for Astrophysical Applications in the Mid-Infrared (1994)
  21. The NASA-Arc 10/20 Micron Camera (1994)
  22. The Temporal Evolution of the 1 to 5 Micron Spectrum of V1974 Cygni (Nova Cygni 1992) (1995)
  23. Evidence for Chemical Processing of Pre-Cometary Icy Grains in Circumstellar Environments of Pre-Main Sequence Stars (1995)
  24. The Galactic Distribution of Aliphatic Hydrocarbons in the Diffuse Interstellar Medium (1995)
  25. Laboratory Comparisons of Organic Materials to Interstellar Dust and the Murchison Meteorite (1995)
  26. Windows on Orion: A Multi-Wavelength View of the Stars (1995)
  27. Analysis of Near-IR to Mid-IR Imaging and Spectroscopic Data of Mars, the Moon, and Selected Asteroids (1995)
  28. Interstellar Organic Material: Comparisons With Laboratory and Solar System Spectra (1996)
  29. Titan’s 5 µm Spectral Window: Carbon Monoxide and the Albedo of the Surface (1996)
  30. Organics and Ices in Galactic Dust (1996)
  31. Studies of NIR Dust Absorption Features in the Nuclei of Active and IRAS galaxies (1996)
  32. Organic Material in the Interstellar Medium (1996)
  33. From Stardust to Planetesimals: Contributed Papers (1996)
  34. Detection of Organic Matter in Interstellar Grains (1997)
  35. Life From the Solar System? (1997)
  36. From Stardust to Planetesimals: Review Papers. Proc (1997)
  37. The Nature and Evolution of Organics in the Interstellar Medium (1997)
  38. Detection of Ozone on Saturn’s Satellites Rhea and Dione (1997)
  39. Surface Composition of Kuiper Belt Object 1993SC (1997)
  40. The 3.4 μm Absorption Feature in CRL 618 (1997)
  41. Detection of Organic Matter in Interstellar Grains (1997)
  42. Processing of Icy Mantles in Protostellar Envelopes (1998)
  43. H2O Ice in the Envelopes of OH/IR Stars (1998)
  44. Identification of Water Ice on the Centaur 1997 CU26 (1998)
  45. Near-Infrared Spectroscopy of the Proto-planetary Nebula CRL 618 and the Origin of the Hydrocarbon Dust Component in the Interstellar Medium (1998)
  46. The Composition of Centaur 5145 Pholus (1998)
  47. Ultraviolet Spectra of Ariel, Titania, and Oberon: Evidence for Trapped OH from Hubble Space Telescope Observations (1998)
  48. Organic Aerosols in the Atmosphere of Titan. Proc. 1997 Scientific Conference on Obscuration and Aerosol Research (1998)
  49. The Nature and Evolution of Interstellar Organics Solids (1999)
  50. Organics in the ISM: Where do they come from? (1999)
  51. The Interstellar 4.62 μm Band (1999)
  52. Water Ice on Kuiper Belt object 1996 TO66 (1999)
  53. NOTE: Water Ice on Nereid (1999)
  54. ROCN Species Produced By Ion Irradiation of Ice Mixtures: Comparison with Astronomical Observations (2000)
  55. Hydrogen Isotopic Substitution Studies of the 2165 cm-1 (4.62 μm) “XCN” Feature Produced By Ion Bombardment (2000)
  56. Decoding the Domino: The Dark Side of Iapetus (2001)
  57. Observational Constraints on the Abundance and Evolution of “XCN” in Interstellar Grain Mantles (2001)
  58. The Organic Refractory Material in the Diffuse Interstellar Medium: Mid-Infrared Spectroscopic Constraints (2002)
  59. Hydrocarbons, Ices, and “XCN” in the Line of Sight Toward the Galactic Center (2002)
  60. The Effects of Ion Irradiation on the Evolution of the Carrier of the 3.4 Micron Interstellar Absorption Band (2003)
  61. Educating the Next Generation of SETI Scientists: Voyages Through Time (2003)
  62. Spectroscopy of Hydrocarbon Grains toward the Galactic Center and Quintuplet Cluster (2003)
  63. A Census of Dust Absorption at the Galactic Centre (2003)
  64. Hydrocarbons in Meteorites, The Milky Way, and Other Galaxies (2004)
  65. Hydrocarbon Dust Absorption in Seyfert Galaxies and Ultraluminous Infrared Galaxies (2004)
  66. A Candidate Analog for Carbonaceous Interstellar Dust : Formation By Reactive Plasma Polymerization (2005)
  67. Refractory Carbonaceous Material in Luminous Galaxies: Mid-IR Spectroscopic Constraints (2005)
  68. The Relationship Between the Optical Depth of the 9.7 μm Silicate Absorption Feature and Infrared Differential Extinction in Dense Clouds (2007)
  69. Spectropolarimetry of the 3.4 μm Absorption Feature in NGC 1068 (2007)
  70. The Perspectives of Laboratory Dusty Plasmas for the Applications in Astrophysics (2008)
  71. The origin and evolution of interstellar Organics (2008)
  72. Comparing ice composition in dark molecular clouds (2008)
  73. Hydrocarbons on Saturn’s satellites Iapetus and Phoebe (2008)
  74. The Nature of Carbon Dioxide Bearing Ices in Quiescent Molecular Clouds (2009)
  75. Ices in the Quiescent IC 5146 Dense Cloud (2011)
  76. On the Formation of Interstellar Water Ice: Constraints from a Search for Hydrogen Peroxide Ice in Molecular Clouds (2011)
  77. Organic materials in planetary and protoplanetary systems: nature or nurture? (2011)
  78. A Spitzer Survey of an Isolated Globule: DC314.8-5.1 (2011)
  79. Infrared Spectroscopic Survey Of The Quiescent Medium Of Nearby Clouds. I. Ice Formation And Grain Growth In Lupus (2013)
  80. Aromatic and Aliphatic Organic Materials on Iapetus: Analysis of Cassini VIMS Data (2014)
  81. Water on the Moon. IAU XXIX General Assembly Conference Proceedings (Cambridge University Press), Submitted (2015)

Recent Posters:

  1. Ice Formation and Grain Growth in the Quiescent Medium of the Lupus Molecular Clouds (2014)
  2. Interstellar Organics, the Solar Nebula, and Saturn’s Satellite Phoebe [22MB PDF] (2014)
  3. Phobos low density: are macroporosity and/or water ice ‘condiciones sine
    quibus non’?
    [41KB PDF] (2013)
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