Michael C. Malin, President and Chief Scientist

Michael C. Malin


  • A. B., 1971, University of California, Berkeley, Physics
  • Dissertation, 1975, Ph.D., 1976, California Institute of Technology, Planetary Sciences and Geology.



  • President and Chief Scientist, Malin Space Science Systems, Inc., 1990-present
  • Research Professor, 1990-1991, Professor, 1987-1990, Associate Professor, 1982-1987, Assistant Professor, 1979-1982, Department of Geology, Arizona State University
  • Member of the Technical Staff, Earth and Planetary Sciences Section, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1975-1979.


Project Participation:

Principal Investigator/Team Leader:

Co-Investigator/Team Member:

  • Mars Science Laboratory Mars Descent Imager (2004-present)
  • Mars Science Laboratory Mastcam (2004-present)
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Color Imager (2002-present)
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera (2002-present)
  • Mars Climate Orbiter Color Imager (1996-2000)
  • Mars Polar Lander Descent Imager (1996-2000)
  • Mars Surveyor 2001 Descent Imager (1998-2000)
  • Mars Global Surveyor Orbiter Camera (1993-2007)
  • Mars Orbiter Camera (1986-1993)
  • Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (2004-present)
  • Mars Exploration Rover 2003; Athena Rover (1998-present)
  • Phoenix Mars Scout mission MARDI (2003-2009)
  • Mars Odyssey 2001 Thermal Imaging System (1998-present)
  • Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer (1993-2007)
  • Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Multispectral Imager/Near-infrared Spectrometer (1995-2000)
  • Mars Pathfinder Guest Investigator (1997)
  • Mars Observer Thermal Emission Spectrometer (1986-1993)
  • Comet Rendezvous/Asteroid Flyby Imaging System (1986-1991)

Other Science Experience:

  • Guest Investigator, Magellan Venus Radar Investigation Group, 1990-1995
  • Participating Scientist, Mars '94 Mission, 1990-1994
  • Principal Investigator, Venus Data Analysis Program, 1993-1995
  • Principal Investigator, NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program, 1975-1993
  • Principal Investigator, NSF Polar Programs (U.S. Antarctic Research Program), 1982-1987, 1993-1995
  • Principal Investigator, NSF Earth Sciences, 1983-1987.


Research Interests:

NASA sponsored research included photogeological studies of Viking Orbiter and Lander (Mars), Voyager (satellites of Jupiter and Saturn), and Pioneer Venus (Venus) images, and terrestrial field studies of eolian, fluvial, volcanic, and mass movement phenomena (conducted in Iceland, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and Utah). NSF sponsored research included studies of cold-environment weathering and erosion phenomena in Antarctica and evaluation of explosive volcanic eruption processes through the use of computer graphic techniques.

Awards and Honors:

  • Received a five year MacArthur Fellowship in 1987
  • Named Aviation Week & Space Technology Aerospace Laureate, 2000
  • American Geographical Association, G.K. Gilbert Award, 2001
  • NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, 2002
  • California Institute of Technology Distinguished Alumni Medal, 2003
  • 2005 Carl Sagan Memorial Award jointly presented by the American Astronomical Society and The Planetary Society and 
  • The Planetary Society's Thomas O. Paine Award in 2007


Other Biographical Material:

Autobiographical material written for Mars Pathfinder Web Site

Autobiographical material and comments written for the Mars Exploration Program around the time of the Mars Exploration Rover mission

Another site, apparently 'cribbed' from the preceding sites, containing much the same material


Recent Publications:

Malin, M. C., K. S. Edgett, B. A. Cantor, M. A. Caplinger, G. E. Danielson, E. H. Jensen, M. A. Ravine, J. L. Sandoval, and K. D. Supulver (2010), An overview of the 1985–2006 Mars Orbiter Camera science investigation, Mars 5, 1–60, doi:10.1555/mars.2010.0001.

Bell, J. F., M. J. Wolff, M. C. Malin, W. M. Calvin, B. A. Cantor, M. A. Caplinger, R. T. Clancy, K. S. Edgett, L. J. Edwards, J. Fahle, F. Ghaemi, R. M. Haberle, A. Hale, P. B. James, S. W. Lee, T. McConnochie, E. N. Dobrea, M. A. Ravine, D. Schaeffer, K. D. Supulver, and P. C. Thomas (2009), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars Color Imager (MARCI): Instrument description, calibration, and performance, Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets 114, E08S92, doi:10.1029/2008JE003315.

Williams, R. M. E., and M. C. Malin (2008) Sub-kilometer fans in Mojave Crater, Mars, Icarus 198, 365–383,  doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2008.07.013.

Malin, M. C., J. F. Bell III, B. A. Cantor, W. Calvin, R. T. Clancy, R. M. Haberle, P. B. James, S. W. Lee, P. C. Thomas, and M. J. Wolff (2008). Climate, weather, and north polar observations from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars Color Imager, Icarus 501–512, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2007.10.016.

Malin, M. C., J. F. Bell III, B. A. Cantor, M. A. Caplinger, W. M. Calvin, R. T. Clancy, K. S. Edgett, L. Edwards, R. M. Haberle, P. B. James, S. W. Lee, M. A. Ravine, P. C. Thomas, and M. J. Wolff (2007), Context Camera Investigation on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Journal of Geophysical Research 112, E06S04, doi:10.1029/2006JE002808.

Malin, M. C., K. S. Edgett, L. V. Posiolova, S. M. McColley, and E. Z. N. Dobrea (2006), Present-day impact cratering rate and contemporary gully activity on Mars, Science 314, 1573–1577, doi:10.1126/science.1135156.

Malin, M. C. and K. S. Edgett (2003), Evidence for persistent flow and aqueous sedimentation on early Mars, Science 302, 1931–1934, doi:10.1126/science.1090544.

Edgett, K. S. and Malin, M. C. (2002), Martian sedimentary rock stratigraphy: Outcrops and interbedded craters of northwest Sinus Meridiani and southwest Arabia Terra, Geophysical Research Letters 29, 242179, doi:10.1029/2002GL016515.

Malin, M. C., J. F. Bell III, W. Calvin, R. T. Clancy, R. M. Haberle, P. B. James, S. W. Lee, P. C. Thomas, and M. A. Caplinger (2001), Mars Color Imager (MARCI) on the Mars Climate Orbiter, Journal of Geophysical Research 106(E8), 17651–17672, doi:10.1029/1999JE001145.

Malin, M. C. and K. S. Edgett (2001), Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera: Interplanetary cruise through primary mission, Journal of Geophysical Research 106(E10), 23429–23570, doi:10.1029/2000JE001455.

Malin, M. C., M. A. Caplinger, and S. D. Davis (2001), Observational evidence for an active surface reservoir of solid carbon dioxide on Mars, Science 294, 2146–2148, doi:10.1126/science.1066416.

Malin, M. C. and K. S. Edgett (2000), Sedimentary rocks of early Mars, Science 290, 1927–1937, doi:10.1126/science.290.5498.1927.

Malin, M. C. and K. S. Edgett (2000), Evidence for recent groundwater seepage and surface runoff on Mars, Science 288, 2330–2335, doi:10.1126/science.288.5475.2330.