Nichols-Fleming, Ph.D.

Earth & Planetary Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow

Center for Earth and Planetary Studies,
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC




I'm Fiona Nichols-Fleming, a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Emily Martin in the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum. My research focuses on computational and analytical modeling of planetary geophysical systems to link internal evolution of bodies to their observable surfaces.

I received my PhD in 2023 from the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Brown University. For my PhD, I worked in the GHOSST Lab with Alex Evans and Brandon Johnson at Purdue University. From 2015 - 2019, I was an astronomy undergraduate at the University of Rochester and participated in summer REU programs at Cornell with Alex Hayes and at the SETI Institute with Cristina Dalle Ore.


Latest Publication

Porosity Evolution in Metallic Asteroids: Implications for the Origin and Thermal History of Asteroid 16 Psyche

Some M-type asteroids have measured bulk densities much lower than expected based on their metal-rich surfaces. In particular, the density of the largest M-type asteroid 16 Psyche would require a bulk porosity of ∼52 vol% if it has a pure iron composition. We determine that a pure iron Psyche must have cooled to and remained below 800 K to maintain sufficient porosity for that porosity to persist until present. Iron bodies smaller than Psyche could preserve long-lived high porosities (>40%), yet even the smallest M-type asteroids would require temperatures below 925 K...