Kynan is a Planetary Scientist in the Planetary Habitability and Technology Lab. He works on understanding the geological, geophysical, and hydrological processes that shape the surfaces of icy asteroids and worlds in our solar system.
He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Geophysics and Space Physics at the University of California Los Angeles. During his graduate studies at UCLA, Kynan contributed to the geologic mapping of the dwarf planet Ceres, a multi-year effort that produced the first global map of any dwarf planet in our solar system. His research focused on the links between observable surface features on Ceres, such as landslides, impact craters, and valleys, and what they tell us about its internal structure and composition. In conjunction with other Dawn Team members, Kynan’s work established that, like Earth and Mars, Ceres has abundant reserves of ground ice.
Kynan’s current and proposed research takes aim at better understanding periglacial and groundwater processes on Earth, Mars, Ceres, and icy moons through a combination of observation, computer modeling, and the geophysical examination of terrestrial polar analogs. He also works on future exploration technologies for accessing the deep subsurface oceans of many icy moon, and for high-detail mapping of ground ice on Mars and Ceres.