Prof. Ali Bramson receives NASA award for Mars Ice Mapping - Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences - Purdue University Skip to main content

Prof. Ali Bramson receives NASA award for Mars Ice Mapping




The International Mars Ice Mapper Measurement Definition Team (I-MIM MDT) is a highly specialized group of scientists from around the world called together by four space agencies including NASA, the Italian Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. This Mars collaboration was tasked with defining the measurements that a Mars mission with a new radar system aboard could achieve, particularly with respects to mapping ice on Mars that could enable future human exploration to the Red Planet.

Ali Bramson, assistant professor with Purdue University’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, studies Mars and was chosen as the Assistant Co-Chair of the team. She studies problems related to understanding how ice affects the surfaces of solid bodies in our solar system. She tackles these problems using a combination of spacecraft remote sensing observations and theoretical modeling, supplemented by occasional field work at terrestrial analog sites and experimental studies. Her research on Martian mid-latitude ice is helping to shape the future of in situ resource utilization and robotic and human exploration of Mars.

The team worked for over a year and completed a final report. Due to the hard work and diligence of the team, NASA recently awarded the I-MIM definition team a NASA Agency Honor Award for NASA Group Achievement. I-MIM is a mission concept that would map and characterize accessible (within the uppermost 10m) subsurface water ice and its overburden in mid-to-low latitudes to support planning for potential human surface missions to Mars.

“This was my first time in a leadership role for a project like this, so receiving this recognition from NASA Headquarters is really rewarding and makes me feel like I was able to successfully contribute to the outcomes of this intensive study,” says Bramson. “Receiving this group achievement award also means a lot because this was a highly international team working together across the globe (meaning telecons at all times of the day) to put together our comprehensive report that NASA and other space agencies will use in evaluating the measurements that could be made by a dedicated ice mapping mission to Mars. I feel honored to have gotten to be part of such an awesome, unique, and diverse team of individuals from around the world!”

Nicola Fox, NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, sent a message to the team that says, “I am thrilled to announce the highly anticipated 2023 Agency Honor Awards and Honor Awards Appreciation Program recipients. The Agency Honor Awards are NASA’s most prestigious form of recognition and are presented to individuals and teams who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the Agency’s mission. The Honor Awards Appreciation Program acknowledges contributions towards NASA’s missions, goals and values.”

Bramson was told of the award in an email from Rick Davis, Assistant Director for Science and Exploration in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD). It says, “we are excited to let you know that you have received a NASA Group Achievement Award for your outstanding work on the International Mars Ice Mapper (I-MIM) Measurement Definition Team (MDT). On behalf of NASA and the international partners working on the IMIM concept team, we cannot thank you enough for all that you contributed. The expertise you provided was instrumental in advancing the mission concept. Again, thank you very much for all that you accomplished on the MDT, as well as for your incredible commitment to Martian exploration.”


Above is the award certificate received by Bramson. Photo provided by Ali Bramson.


About the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University

The Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) combines four of Purdue’s most interdisciplinary programs: Geology & Geophysics, Environmental Sciences, Atmospheric Sciences, and Planetary Sciences. EAPS conducts world-class research, educates undergraduate and graduate students, and provides our college, university, state and country with the information necessary to understand the world and universe around us. Our research is globally recognized, our students are highly valued by graduate schools, employers, and our alumni continue to make significant contributions in academia, industry, and federal and state government.




Ali Bramson, assistant professor with Purdue University’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

Writer: Cheryl PierceCommunications Specialist

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