LESIA, Paris-Meudon Observatory, FranceAthena Coustenis is an Astrophysicist, Director of Research 1st class with the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) of France, working at Paris Observatory in Meudon. Her specialty is Planetology (exploration and study of the Solar System from ground-based and space observations). Her research is devoted to the investigation of planetary atmospheres and surfaces, with emphasis on the outer solar system bodies, in particular icy moons like Titan and Enceladus, Saturn’s satellites, and Jupiter’s Ganymede and Europa, objects with high astrobiological potential. She also works on the characterisation of exoplanetary atmospheres. She has led many observational campaigns from the ground using large telescopes (CFHT, UKIRT, VLT, etc) and has used the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) to conduct planetary investigations.
A. Coustenis contributes to the definition and development of space missions and to the exploitation of the acquired data. She is Co-Investigator of three of the instruments (CIRS, HASI, DISR) aboard the recently completed Cassini-Huygens space mission to Saturn and Titan, in which she was involved from the beginning of the definition phase. She analyses and interprets the spectro-imaging data recovered since 2004 using her own radiative transfer codes and other analysis tools.
She has contributed in or led several other proposals, studies and development phases for space missions to the outer solar system and the exoplanets. Her expertise in space missions has allowed her to Chair or to participate in several advisory groups within ESA and NASA and other European Institutions. She is currently the Chair of the European Science Foundation Space Science Committee (ESF-ESSC).