Headshot of Heidi Hammel

Heidi Hammel

Vice President, Board of Directors of The Planetary Society; AURA Vice President for Science

Heidi B. Hammel joined The Planetary Society's Board of Directors in 2005. Heidi is the Vice President for Science at AURA, Inc (Washington, DC). AURA is a non-profit consortium of universities and institutions that manages and operates astronomical facilities, including the Hubble Space Telescope.

She received her undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982 and her Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from the University of Hawaii in 1988. After a post-doctoral position at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, California), Heidi returned to MIT, where she spent nearly nine years as a Principal Research Scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

Heidi primarily studies outer planets and their satellites, with a focus on observational techniques. For the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in July 1994, Heidi led the Hubble Space Telescope Team that investigated Jupiter's atmospheric response to the collisions. An expert on the planet Neptune, she was a member of the Imaging Science Team for the Voyager 2 encounter with the gas giant in 1989. Her latest research involves studies of Neptune and Uranus with Hubble and other Earth-based observatories. Heidi is also an Interdisciplinary Scientist for Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled for launch in 2018.

Heidi received the 2002 American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences (AAS/DPS) Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public and the 2020 American Astronomical Society’s Masursky Award for service to the planetary science community.

Latest Articles

Why will it take six months to see JWST's first science images?

JWST interdisciplinary scientist Heidi Hammel explains why it will take six months for the telescope's first images to emerge.

What the Shoemaker-Levy 9 Impact Taught Us

Twenty-five years ago, multiple fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter, changing the face of the planet and the course of planetary science.

A Note on the State of Planetary Science

Heidi Hammel, the Chair of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Science, reacts to the recent budget news and the uncertain future for planetary science at NASA.

Latest Planetary Radio Appearances

JWST is ready for launch and amazing science

Three astronomers share what they hope the James Webb Space Telescope will reveal about our universe after launch.

Space Policy Edition: Astronomy goes big, with Heidi Hammel

Veteran astronomer Heidi Hammel discusses how the new astrophysics decadal survey lays the groundwork for decades of exciting science.

Exploring the Cosmos With Heidi Hammel and AURA

Astronomer and planetary scientist Heidi Hammel’s AURA shines bright across our solar system and beyond.