Dr. David Ray Thompson

David R. Thompson is a Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.  He is Technical Group Lead of the JPL Imaging Spectroscopy Group, Instrument Scientist for NASA’s EMIT and Lunar Trailblazer missions, and Investigation Scientist for NASA’s Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) project.  His research advances the algorithms and practice of imaging spectroscopy for characterizing Earth and other planetary bodies.  David’s approaches have been fielded to four continents, three oceans, multiple Earth-orbiting spacecraft, and twice to the surface of Mars.  He has received the NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal, the Lew Allen Award for Excellence, and the NASA Early Career Achievement Medal.

  • Ph. D., Robotics, The Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, 2008
  • M.Sc. Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 2002
  • B.A., Computer Science, Carleton College, 2001

Research Interests: 

Use of imaging spectrometers to characterize Earth and other planetary bodies. Statistical modeling and uncertainty quantification; real time analysis and planetary instrument autonomy; instrument characterization and calibration; atmospheric imaging, including greenhouse point sources; and a range of Earth science applications for visible-infrared remote imaging spectroscopy.

Professional Experience: 

Professional positions:

  • 2022- present:  Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • 2018- present:  Principal, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • 2012- present:  Research Technologist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • 2008- 2012:      Member Technical and Research Staff, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Current roles include:

  • Instrument Scientist, EMIT Mission
  • Investigation Scientist, AVIRIS Airborne Imaging Spectrometer
  • Instrument Scientist, HVM3 on the Lunar Trailblazer Mission
  • Principal Investigator, PRISM Instrument
  • Technical Group Lead, Imaging Spectroscopy
  • Science Team, BioSCape Airborne Mission
  • Science Team, Delta-X Airborne Mission
  • Science Team, S-MODE Airborne Mission

Selected Awards: 
  • NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal, 2020
  • NASA Early Career Achievement Medal, 2014
  • Caltech / JPL Lew Allen Award for Excellence, 2013-14

Selected Publications: 

Over 100 peer reviewed journal articles, including the following from 2021:

  1. P. G. Lucey, N. Petro, D. Hurley, W. Farrell, P. Prem, E. Costello, M. Cable, M. Barker, M. Benna, D. Dyar, E. Fisher, R. Green, P. Hayne, K. Hibbitts, C. Honniball, S. Li, E. Malaret, K. Mandt, E. Mazarico, M. McCanta, C. Pieters, X. Sun, D. R. Thompson, T. Orlando (2021).  Volatile interactions with the lunar surface.  Geochemistry. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemer.2021.125858
  2. L. Baskaran, C. D. Elder, D. R. Thompson, A. Bloom, M. Shuang, C. E. Miller (2021).  Geomorphological Patterns of Remotely Sensed Methane Hot Spots in the Mackenzie Delta, Canada.  Environmental Research Letters, in press.
  3. C. D. Elder, D. R. Thompson, A. K. Thorpe, H. Chandanpurkar, P. J. Hanke, N. Hasson, S. R. James, B. J. Minsley, N. J. Pastick, D. Olefeldt, K. M. Walter Anthony, C. E. Miller, (2021).  Characterizing methane emission hotspots from thawing permafrost.  Global Biogeochemical Cycles, e2020GB006922.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GB006922
  4. J. E. Fahlen, P. G. Brodrick, D. R. Thompson, R. L. Herman, G. Hulley, K. Cawse-Nicholson, R. O. Green, J. J. Green, S. J. Hook, C. E. Miller (2021).  Joint VSWIR-TIR Retrievals of Earth’s Surface and Atmosphere.  Remote Sensing of Environment, 267.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2021.112727
  5. P. G. Brodrick, D. R. Thompson, M. J. Garay, D. M. Giles, B. N. Holben, and O. V. Kalashnikova (2021).  Simultaneous characterization of wildfire smoke and surface properties with imaging spectroscopy during the FIREX-AQ field campaign.  Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres.  In press, available at the Earth and Space Science Open Archive. https://doi.org/10.1002/essoar.10506794.1
  6. Candela, K. Edelson, M. M Gierach, D. R Thompson, G. Woodward, D. Wettergreen (2021). Remote Sensing and In Situ Measurements for Efficient Mapping and Optimal Sampling of Coral Reefs, Frontiers in Marine Science. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.689489
  7. M. Richardson, D. R. Thompson, M. Kurowski, M. Lebsock (2021). Boundary layer water vapour statistics from high spatial resolution spaceborne visible spectrometry. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2021-89
  8. J. P. Harringmeyer, K. Kaiser, D. R. Thompson, M. M. Gierach, C. L. Cash, and C. G. Fichot (2021). Detection and Sourcing of CDOM in Urban Coastal Waters With UV-Visible Imaging Spectroscopy.  Frontiers in Marine Science.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2021.647966
  9. P. G. Brodrick, D. R. Thompson, J. E. Fahlen, M. Eastwood, C. M. Sarture, S. R. Lundeen, W. Olson-Duvall, N. Carmon, R. O. Green (2021). Generalized radiative transfer emulation for imaging spectroscopy reflectance retrievals. Remote Sensing of Environment, 261. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2021.112476
  10. N. Bohn, D. R. Thompson, N. Carmon, J. Susiluoto, M. J. Turmon, J. M. Cook, L. Guanter (2021).  Optimal estimation of snow and ice surface parameters from spaceborne imaging spectroscopy measurements, Remote Sensing of Environment, 264, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2021.112613
  11. M. D. Foote, P. E. Dennison , P. R. Sullivan , K. B. O’Neill , A. K. Thorpe, D. R. Thompson, D. H. Cusworth, R. Duren, S. C. Joshi (2021).  Impact of Scene-Specific Absorption Spectra on Matched Filter Greenhouse Gas Retrievals from Imaging Spectroscopy.  Remote Sensing of Environment 264. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2021.112574
  12. D. R. Thompson, P. G. Brodrick, K. Cawse-Nicholson, K. D. Chadwick, R. O. Green, B. Poulter, S. Serbin, P. Townsend, A. Shiklomanov (2021). Spectral Fidelity of Earth's Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystems.  Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2021JG006273
  13. C. Bruegge, T. G. Arnold, J. Czapla-Myers, R. Dominguez, D. R. Thompson, J. Van den Bosch, B. N. Wenny (2021). Vicarious Calibration of eMAS, AirMSPI, and AVIRIS Sensors During FIREX-AQ. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. https://doi.org/10.1109/TGRS.2021.3066997
  14. G. Stephens, O. Kalashnikova, J. J. Gristey, P. Pilewskie, D. R. Thompson, X. Huang, M. Lebsock, S. Schmidt (2021).  The Spectral Nature of Earth’s Reflected Radiation: Measurement and Science Applications.  Frontiers in Remote Sensing 2. https://doi.org/10.3389/frsen.2021.664291
  15. D. S. Connelly, D. R. Thompson, N. Mahowald, L. Li, N. Carmon, G. Okin, R. O. Green (2021).  The EMIT Mission Information Yield for Mineral Dust Radiative Forcing, Remote Sensing of Environment 258. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2021.112380
  16. D. R. Thompson, A. Braverman, N. Bohn, P. G. Brodrick, N. Carmon, M. Eastwood, R. O. Green, M. Johnson, D. A. Roberts, J. Susiluoto (2021). Scene Invariants for Quantifying Radiative Transfer Uncertainty, Remote Sensing of Environment 260. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2021.112432
  17. D. R. Thompson, B. H. Kahn, P. G. Brodrick, M. D. Lebsock, M. Richardson (2021).  Spectroscopic Imaging of Sub-Kilometer Spatial Structure in Lower Tropospheric Water Vapor.  Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-14-2827-2021
  18. K. Cawse-Nicholson, and others incl. D. R. Thompson (2021). NASA’s Surface Biology and Geology Designated Observable: A Perspective on Surface Imaging Algorithms.  Remote Sensing of Environment 257.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2021.112349
  19. J. Borchardt, K. Gerilowski, S. Krautwurst, H. Bovensmann, A. K. Thorpe, D. R. Thompson, C. Frankenberg, and J. P. Burrows (2021). Detection and Quantification of CH4 Plumes using the WFM-DOAS retrieval on AVIRIS-NG hyperspectral data. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-14-1267-2021
  20. L. Li, N. M. Mahowald, Y. Balkanski, P. Ginoux, M. Goncalves Ageitos, R. O. Green, D. S. Hamilton, O. Kalashnikova, M. Klose, J. F. Kok, R. L. Miller, V. Obiso, D. Paynter, C. Perez Garcia-Pando, D. R. Thompson (2021). Quantifying the range of dust direct radiative forcing due to source mineralogy uncertainty. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 21:5. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-21-3973-2021
  21. D. R. Thompson, P. G. Brodrick (2021). Realizing machine learning’s promise in geoscience remote sensing, Eos, 102. Editorial review only. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021EO160605


David R. Thompson
4800 Oak Grove Dr.
Pasadena, CA 91109
Phone: 818.354.2200