mountain profile Institute for Astronomy University of Hawaii

Tobias C. Owen


Maintained by LG

photo of T. Owen  


PhD, University of Arizona, 1965
owen at

  • Origin and evolution of planetary and satellite atmospheres
  • Solar system exploration
  • Spectroscopy of planets, satellites, and comets
  • Origin and cosmic distribution of life


Selected Awards

NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, 1979
University of Chicago Distinguished Alumni Award, 1983
NASA Group Achievement Awards: 1971, 1981, 1986, 1989,1996
University of Hawaii Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research, 2006
French Academy of Sciences: Grand Prix Marcel Dassault, 2006
Docteur Honoris Causa, Paris Observatory, 2007
Gerard P. Kuiper Prize, Division for Planetary Sciences, American Astronomical Society, 2009
NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal, 2009

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Fellow, American Geophysical Union

Selected Publications

Co-author of two university textbooks:

The Search for Life in the Universe (with Donald Goldsmith; 3rd edition 2002)

The Planetary System (with David Morrison; 3rd edition 2003)

Twelve selected research papers (from over 300):

Composition of Titan’s Lower Atmosphere and Simple Surface Volatiles as Measured by the Cassini-Huygens Probe Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer Experiment
H. B. Niemann, S. K. Atreya, J. E. Demick, D. Gautier, J. A. Haberman, D. N. Harpold, W. T. Kasprzak, K. I. Lunine, T. C. Owen, and F. Raulin
Journal of Geophysical Research, 115, E12006 (2010)

Compositional Constraints on Giant Planet Formation
T. Owen and T. Encrenaz
Planetary and Space Science, 54, 1188-1196 (2006)

Huygens Rediscovers Titan (News and Views)
T. Owen
Nature, 438, 756-757 (2005)

Preliminary Results from the Huygens Probe into Titan’s Atmosphere
T. Owen, S. K. Atreya, and H. B. Nieman
Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk, 175, 664-668 (2005) (in Russian)

A ’Wild Surmise’: First Results from the Huygens Probe into Titan’s Atmosphere (English translation of the above article)
T. Owen, S. Atreya, and H. Niemann
Physics Uspekhi, 48, 635-638 (2005)

Element Abundances and Isotope Ratios in the Giant Planets and Titan
T. Owen and T. Encrenaz
Space Science Reviews, 106, 121-138 (2003)

Atmospheric Probes: Needs and Prospects (Keynote Address)
T. Owen
In Proceedings of the International Workshop Planetary Probe Atmospheric Entry and Descent Trajectory Analysis and Science, 6-9 October 2003, Lisbon, Portugal, ed. A. Wilson, ESA SP-544, pp. 7-11 (2004)

Protosolar Nitrogen
T. Owen, P. R. Mahaffy, H. B. Niemann, S. Atreya, and M. Wong
The Astrophysical Journal (Letters), 553, L77-L79 (2001)

A Low-Temperature Origin for the Planetesimals that Formed Jupiter
T. Owen, P. Mahaffy, H. B. Niemann, S. Atreya, T. Donahue, A. Bar-Nun, and I. de Pater
Nature, 402, 269-270 (1999)

The Composition and Early History of the Atmosphere of Mars
T. Owen
In Mars, ed. H. H. Kieffer, B. M. Jakosky, C. W. Snyder, and M. S. Matthews (Univ. Arizona Press) pp. 818-835 (1992)

Deuterium on Mars: The Abundance of HDO and the value of D/H
T. Owen, J. P. Maillard, C. De Bergh, and B. L. Lutz
Science, 240, 1767-1770 (1988)

Deuterium in the Outer Solar System: Evidence for Two Distinct Reservoirs
T. Owen, C. de Bergh, and B. L. Lutz
Nature, 320, 244-246 (1986)

The Composition of the Atmosphere at the Surface of Mars
T. Owen, K. Biemann, D. R. Rushneck, J. E. Biller, D. W. Howarth, and A. L. LaFleur
Journal of Geophysical Research, 82, 4635-4640 (1977)