Hello, my name is

Tanya Harrison

I'm a Planetary Scientist


Click here to view my complete CV.

I am the founder of Professional Martian LLC, a company focused on science and sci-fi consulting, communications, and outreach in ways to break space out of the echo chamber to reach broader audiences.

Currently I am also the Manager of Science Programs at Planet Federal in Washington DC, the government-focused arm of Planet Labs. In this role I help scientists understand the utility of—and how to access, process, and use—Planet's incredible daily imaging of the entire landmass of the Earth and its coral reefs.

Previously I was the Director of Research for Arizona State University's Space Technology and Science ("NewSpace") Initiative. I worked on commercial-academic space partnerships and martian geomorphology research. I was also a Science Team Collaborator on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity and the upcoming Mars 2020 sample caching rover.

I received my Ph.D. in Geology with a specialization in Planetary Science and Exploration from the University of Western Ontario's Centre for Planetary Science and Space Exploration (CPSX). From 2008 until 2012, I was on the science operations team for NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) and Mars Color Imager (MARCI) at Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS). For CTX, I chose what the camera takes pictures of in a given week and then analyze those images from a geologist’s standpoint. For MARCI, I wrote weather reports for the general public, as well as a few times for the Spirit and Opportunity rover teams to alert them of any impending storms that could threaten the rovers. I was also a science team collaborator for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Mast Cameras (Mastcam), Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). While this work was exciting, I made the decision after 4 years to return to graduate school and get my Ph.D.

My undergraduate degree is in astronomy and physics from the University of Washington, and I did my graduate work in geology (well, “Earth and Environmental Sciences”) at Wesleyan University. Areas of interest include martian geomorphology and terrestrial analogues, spectroscopy, and glaciology. My work in astronomy has involved cooling mechanisms of interstellar dust clouds, diffuse interstellar bands, the metallicity of the old, metal-rich cluster NGC 6791, and the metallicity and lithium abundances of the recurrent novae T Coronae Borealis and RS Ophiuchi.

I have also been active in education and public outreach, getting involved with organizations such as The Planetary Society, Expanding Your Horizons, Girl Scouts, Norwescon, The Mars Society, and The National Space Society.

In my spare time, I am a professional photographer and the owner/photographer behind Station Toronto.


Image Processing

Martian Geomorphology


Planet Federal

Manager of Science Programs

Science evangelist to promote use of Planet's Earth observing imagery for research purposes to help change the world and benefit life here on our Blue Marble.

Arizona State University

Director of Research

Worked to build partnerships between ASU and commercial companies for spaceflight projects with the Space Technology and Science (NewSpace) Initiative. Also worked on martian geomorphology research, and was a Science Team Collaborator on the Opportunity rover.

University of Western Ontario

Research Assistant

Global-scale studies of martian mid-latitude landforms. Funded under the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, Amelia Earhart Fellowship, NSERC CREATE Technologies & Techniques for Earth and Space Exploration Fellowship, and NSERC CREATE Canadian Astrobiology Training Program.

The Planetary Society

Web Editor Intern

Working behind-the-scenes to keep the The Planetary Society website content updated!

Malin Space Science Systems

Assistant Staff Scientist

Science operations team member for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera (CTX) and Mars Color Imager (MARCI). Science team collaborator and instrument team member for the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) rover's Mast Cameras (Mastcam), Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). Also acted as webmaster and organized public outreach activities.

Wesleyan University

Teaching Assistant

Nothing fancy here. Typical graduate student stuff: Lead lectures, grade papers, drive field trip vans.

University of Washington


Astronomy Department:
*Processed Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 data to study the photometry of open clusters in the Andromeda Galaxy
*Processed ground-based spectroscopic data of the recurring novae RS Ophiuchi and T Coronae Borealis to determine metallicities, resulting in the discovery of a lithium enhancement in recurring novae relative to other binary star systems

Earth and Space Sciences Department:
*Processed MODIS AQUA/TERRA satellite data of the Antarctic Dry Valleys using ENVI and ArcGIS to look for snow cover events

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Washington DC / Toronto

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