Astrogeology Science Center


Ph.D. Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona, 2005 

Dissertation: “Remote Sensing of Thermally Induced Activity on Io and Mars”

B.S. Mathematics, University of Arizona, 2000

Professional Statement

Dr. Milazzo is highly experienced with visible and near-infrared remote sensing as well as planetary data processing. He has: contributed to making mosaics of the Magellan radar data at Venus, worked with the Solid State Imaging (SSI) team of NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in orbit at Jupiter in the role of planning, processing, mosaicing, and interpreting images of the active volcanoes on Io and tectonic activity on Europa; worked with the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) team of NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft in the role of interpreting and calibrating visible and infrared images of the surface of Mars; planned flyby observations of Io for the Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) team, planned first-cut observations of Saturn's icy moons and Titan; planned and analyzed very high-resolution (25-cm ground scale) imaging of the Martian surface with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft.

In addition, Dr. Milazzo has experience with numerical modeling of the cooling of lava flows. He has written software to: assist in his analysis of lava–sulfur-dioxide interactions at the surface of Io and the role of those interactions in the production of Io’s giant volcanic plumes; model the lava–water interactions and the role of those interactions in the formation of columnar jointing on the surface of Earth and Mars; model the Martian near-surface heat flow due to daily and seasonal changes. Dr. Milazzo has contributed significantly to the development of planetary remote sensing, image processing, cartographic mapping, and calibration techniques for a variety of missions and data types, including: MRO, MGS, and Odyssey (Mars); Cassini, Galileo and Voyager (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto); and at various geological field sites on the Earth, including in Hawai’i, Utah, and Arizona.

Dr. Milazzo is excited to give classroom and public lectures, university seminars, and the like. In addition, he is happy to review manuscripts and proposals, formally or informally.

Past and Current Mission Involvement

Lead on USGS-OSIRIS-REx cooperative agreement for photometric modeling, software development, and related work.

PI on a CubeSat mission concept to study the lunar impact rate.

Calibration, Science, and Operations on the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter.

Early-stage planning of Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) observations of Io during the Cassini flyby of Jupiter and early-stage planning of Cassini ISS observations of Titan and Saturn's icy moons.

Calibration and science investigations using visible and infrared imaging data from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) onboard Mars Odyssey in orbit at Mars.

Planning, processing, and analysis of Galileo Solid State Imager (SSI) observations of Jupiter's Galilean moons.

Mosaic generation of Magellan radar images of the Venusian surface.

Professional Experience


  • Research Physical Scientist (October 2014 – Present)
    • Planetary and terrestrial remote sensing research and software development.
    • Remote sensing data processing, including: Galileo SSI images of Io and Europa; HiRISE and CTX images of Mars; and MESSENGER’s WAC and NAC cameras.
    • HiRISE radiometric calibration.
    • Middle school STEM curricula development.
    • Terrestrial high- and low-temperature remote sensing at Hawai’i. 
  • Teacher (July 2013 – June 2015) BASIS Flagstaff charter school
    • Teach and tutor Pre-Algebra, Algebra II, and Geometry to 6th- through 10th-grade students.
    • Teach and tutor Introduction to Computer Science to 8th- through 12th-grade students.
    • Teach, coach and tutor robotics to high school students. 
  • Research Geophysicist (April 2008 – June 2013) U.S. Geological Survey
    • Team member working to radiometrically calibrate the MRO HiRISE camera. Statistically analyzed the results of various HiRISE calibration techniques and make recommendations to the team regarding collection of additional calibration data or modification of the analysis techniques; document the results of the calibration to enable other scientists to use the HiRISE image data. The calibration team comprises a world-wide group of scientists and engineers.
    • For absolute radiometry calibration comparisons and for science analysis purposes, research and de- velop new imager:spectrometer comparison algorithms and data products, based on the MRO instru- ments: HiRISE and CRISM.
    • Project Chief leading a team of scientists, systems engineers, and supervisors to develop and implement a plan for the growth of the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center’s storage and high performance computing resources; scientist involvement was necessary to ensure that resources were commensurate with future science needs.
    • Member of a team of scientists, systems engineers, cartographers, and software developers to im- prove the U.S. Geological Survey Image Processing software suite that is essential for radiometric and geometric processing of planetary image data.
    • As part of an international team, plan and analyze HiRISE images of Martian geologic features.
    • Numerically model the physics of cooling lava flows in diverse environments, including: the Earth, Mars, and Io. These models include fuel-coolant interactions (lava–water, lava–ice, lava–SO2), as well as radiative, conductive, advective, and convective heat transport. 
  • Research Associate (December 2005 – April 2008), University of Arizona
    • Plan and analyze HiRISE images of volcanic constructs on Mars. 
  • HiRISE Calibration Team (December 2005 – April 2008), University of Arizona
    • Radiometrically calibrate the MRO HiRISE camera currently in orbit at Mars, working with a diverse, world-wide team.
    • Created calibration prototype pipeline processing and oversaw later conversion into C++ compiled software as part of the ISIS3 image processing suite. 
  • Targeting Specialist (December 2005 – April 2008), University of Arizona
    • Planned, targeted, generated commands, and oversaw execution of commands for HiRISE images of Mars and of other targets.
    • Wrote software and scripts to aid in processing of HiRISE data.
    • Wrote software and scripts to aid in command generation of HiRISE observations. 
  • Graduate Research Assistant (August 2001 – December 2005), University of Arizona
    • Dissertation: Remote Sensing of Thermally-Induced Activity on Io and Mars 
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (Fall Semester, 2004), University of Arizona 
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (Fall Semester, 2003), University of Arizona
  • Student Assistant (January 1997 – August 2001), University of Arizona
    • Planned, processed, and interpreted Galileo SSI image data of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, and published results in scientific journals and presented at professional meetings.
    • Planned Cassini observations of Io’s volcanic plumes during the Cassini flyby of the Jovian system.
    • Installed and supported necessary software and identified and solved problems for computer users of PIRL. Wrote analysis software to enable researchers and other users of PIRL to complete their duties. 
  • Computer Clerk (October 1995 – January 1997) , U.S. Geological Survey
    • Processed Magellan RADAR data to create Venus 1:5 million RADAR maps, processed Landsat TM data.
    • Transferred and archived various 9-track planetary remote sensing datasets into PDS CDROM libraries.
    • Provided computer support to USGS scientists.