Dr. Gautier is a planetary scientist and astrobiologist working on the formation and evolution of organic matter in the solar system, either through laboratory experiments or through direct investigation using mass spectrometric measurements from space probes.

He obtained his PhD in 2013 on the Laboratory synthesis and study of both chemical and physical properties of Titan's aerosol analogs. He then worked on the COSAC instrument aboard the Rosetta/Philae mission to study organic molecules on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov – Gerasimenko to better constrain the origin and evolution of the organic matter in the Solar System. He later worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to study the formation and properties of organic aerosol in the atmospheres of Titan and the Early Earth and their impact on planetary atmospheres using laboratory experiment. Thomas Gautier also worked on the organic matter within interstellar ice analogs during his postdoctoral fellowship from CNES, the French Space Agency, in laboratory Physics of the Molecular and Ionic Interactions in Marseille.

Current projects include:

  • Titan's aerosols (Co-I) and atmospheric inventory of organic volatiles (PI)
  • Pluto's atmospheric chemistry, aerosols formation and surface organics evolution (PI)
  • Phobos surface and Mars atmosphere (Co-I of the MIRS instrument aboard the future MMX JAXA mission)


Since October 2017    CNRS associate researcher at LATMOS laboratory, Guyancourt, France


2017    CNES Postdoctoral Fellow at PIIM laboratory, Marseille, France


2016    USRA Visiting Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland


2014-2016    NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland


2013-2014    Postdoctoral Fellow at Max Planck Institute For Solar System Exploration, Göttingen, Germany


2010-2013    Ph.D. Student and Teaching Assistant at Université de Versailles St-Quentin, Guyancourt, France


2010-2013    Ph.D. Student at Ruhr Universität Bochum, Germany


Achievements and Awards

2020      ANR young PI research grant (PI)

2020      Co-I of the MIRS instrument aboard the MMX mission


2016       Young Postdoctoral Scientist Award of the French Astrobiological Society


2016       CNES Postdoctoral Fellowship


2016       NASA Cassini Data Analysis Program Research Grant (Science PI)


2015       NASA Habitable Worlds Program Research Grant (co-I)


2014       NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship


2011       Long-term DAAD research grand for international Ph.D. studies


2009       ERASMUS, European Student Exchange Program Grant



 2013     Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics - UVSQ (France) - Laboratory synthesis of Titan's aerosols analogues.


 2013     Ph.D. in Plasma Physics - Ruhr Universität Bochum (Germany).


 2010     M.S. in Planetary Science - Parcours Planétologie d'Ile de France


 2008    B.S. in Physics and Chemistry applied to environmental sciences - Université de Versailles St-Quentin (UVSQ)


Professional and Community Service

Database manager for the Spectroscopy of Planetary Aerosols Analgoues (SPAN) database.


Webmaster of the French Exobiological Society


Numerous public outreach events (AstroBar, Science Festival, Public Conferences)


Local Organizing Committee and Science Organizing Committee for several national and european astrobiology conferences since 2013.


Reviewer for Nature Communications, ApJL, Icarus, Planetary and Space Science and Plasma Processes and Polymers


Panel for several NASA grant programs as external reviewer, panelist and panel chair


Teaching Atmospheric Chemistry and Observational Astronomy to the Paris Planetary Science Master

Selected Publications

For a more up to date list of publication please check: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9794-5056

Gautier, T., Sebree, J., Li, X., Pinnick, V., Grubisic, A., Loeffler, M., Getty, S., Trainer, M., Brinckerhoff, W., Influence of trace aromatics on the chemical growth mechanisms of Titan aerosol analogues, Planetary and Space Science, 140, 27-34 (2017).


Gautier, T., Trainer, M.G., Loeffler, M.J., Sebree, J.A., Anderson, C.M., Environmental temperature effect on the far-Infrared absorption features of aromatic-based Titan's aerosol analogs, Icarus, : 281, 338-341(2017).


Krüger, H., Goesmann, F., Giri, C., Wright, I., Morse, A., Bredehöft, J.H., Ulamec, S., Cozzoni, B., Ehrenfreund,P., Gautier, T., McKenna-Lawlor, S., Raulin, F., Steininger, H., Szopa, C., Decay of COSAC and Ptolemy Mass Spectra at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Astronomy&Astrophysics, 600, A56 (2017).


Cunha de Miranda, B., Garcia, G. A., Gaie-Levrel, F., Mahjoub, A., Gautier, T., Fleury, B., Nahon, L., Pernot, P. and Carrasco, N., Molecular Isomer Identification of Titan's Tholins Organic Aerosols by Photoelectron/Photoion Coincidence Spectrosctopy Coupled to VUV Synchrotron Radiation, J. Phys. Chem. A, 120 (3), 6529-6540 (2016).


Gautier, T., Carrasco, N., Schmitz Afonso, I., Touboul, D., Szopa, C., Buch, A., Development of HPLC-Orbitrap method for identification of N-bearing molecules in complex organic material relevant to planetary environments, Icarus, 275: 259-266 (2016)


Morisson, M., Szopa, C., Carrasco, N., Buch, A., Gautier, T., Titan’s organic aerosols: Molecular composition and structure of laboratory analogues from pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry analysis, Icarus, 277: 442-454 (2016)


Giri, C., McKay, C., Goesmann, F., Schafer, N., Li, X., Steininger, H., Brinckerhoff, W., Gautier, T., Reitner, J., Meierhenrich U. Carbonization in Titan tholins: implication for low albedo on surfaces of Centaurs and trans-Neptunian objects. Int. J. Astrobio, 15 (3): 231-238 (2016).


Goesmann, F., H. Rosenbauer, J. Bredehöft, M. Cabane, P. Ehrenfreund, T. J. Gautier, C. Giri, H. Krüger, L. Le Roy, A. J. MacDermott, S. McKenna-Lawlor, U. Meierhenrich, G. Muñoz-Caro, F. Raulin, R. Roll, A. Steele, H. Steininger, R. Sternberg, C. Szopa, W. Thiemann, and S. Ulamec. Organic compounds on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko revealed by COSAC mass spectrometry. Science, 349, 6247 (2015)


Giri, C., Goesmann, F., Steele, A., Gautier, T., Steininger, H., Krüger, H., Meierhenrich, U., Competence evaluation of COSAC Flight Spare Model Mass Spectrometer: In preparation of arrival of Philae Lander on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Planetary and Space Science, 106, 132-141 (2015)


Gautier, T., Carrasco, N., Schmitz Afonso, I., Touboul, D., Szopa, C., Buch, A., Pernot, P., Nitrogen incorporation in Titan’s tholins inferred by high resolution orbitrap mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, Earth and Planetary Science Letters: 404, pp. 33-42 (2014)


Fleury, B., Carrasco, N., Gautier, T., Mahjoub, A., He, J., Szopa, C., Buch, A., Cernogora, G. Influence of CO on Titan’s atmospheric reactivity, Icarus: 238, 221-229 (2014).


Gautier, T., Carrasco, N., Stefanovic, I., Sikimic, B., Cernogora, G., Winter. J. Methane conversion in a N2-CH4 radiofrequency discharge. Plasma Processes and Polymers: 11(5), 472-481 (2014).


Mahjoub, A., Carrasco, N., Dahoo P.R., Fleury, B., Gautier, T., Cernogora, G., Effect of synthesis temperature on optical indices of organic materials produced by N2-CH4 RF plasma. Plasma Processes and Polymers: 11(5), 409-417 (2014).


Hadamcik, E., Renard, J.-B., Mahjoub, A., Gautier, T., Carrasco, N., Cernogora, G., Szopa, C. Optical properties of analogs of Titan’s aerosols produced by dusty plasma. Earth, Planets and Space: 65, 1175-1184  (2013).


Peng, Z., Gautier, T., Carrasco, N., Pernot, P., Giuliani, A., Mahjoub, A., Correia, J. J., Buch, A., Bénilan, Y., Szopa, C., Cernogora, G. Titan's atmosphere simulation experiment using continuum UV-VUV synchrotron radiation, Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets: 118, 4 778-788 (2013).


Gautier, T., Carrasco, N., Mahjoub, A., Vinatier, S., Giuliani, A., Szopa, C., Anderson, C. M., Correia, J.-J., Dumas, P., Cernogora, G., Mid- and far-infrared absorption spectroscopy of Titan’s aerosols analogues, Icarus: 221, 320-327 (2012).


Mahjoub, A., Carrasco, N., Dahoo, P. R., Gautier, T., Szopa, C., Cernogora, G., Influence of methane concentration on the optical indices of Titan’s aerosols analogues, Icarus: 221, 670-677 (2012).


Carrasco, N., Gautier, T., Es-sebbar, E.-t., Pernot, P., Cernogora, G., Volatile products controlling Titan’s tholins production, Icarus : 219, 230-240 (2012).


Gautier, T., Carrasco, N., Buch, A., Szopa, C., Sciamma-O’Brien, E., Cernogora, G., Nitrile gas chemistry in Titan’s atmosphere, Icarus: 213, 625-635 (2011).

  • Thomas Gautier

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