Melissa Trainer

Melissa G. Trainer (April 22, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an astrobiologist who in 2004 demonstrated empirically that life could have formed on Earth through the interaction of methane, carbon dioxide and ultraviolet light (sunlight).

While a doctoral student at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences, working in the field of atmospheric chemistry, she conducted two experimental studies on the formation of aerosols (tholins) in the early atmosphere of Earth and the current atmosphere of Titan. Project investigator Owen Toon reported, "As had been predicted in some theoretical studies we found that the production rate of aerosols declines as the abundance of CO2 relative to methane increases in simulated terrestrial atmospheres."

Trainer and her coexperimenters reported on their findings in Astrobiology 4(4): 409-419, in a 2004 paper called "Haze Aerosols in the Atmosphere of Early Earth: Manna from Heaven". She later presented the findings at the 2006 NASA Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) in March 2006 where she was recognized for her work.

Raised in northern New Jersey since the age of four, Melissa Trainer attended Hackensack High School, from which she graduated as Valedictorian in 1996. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Abstract Mathematics in 2000. She was married in September 2005.

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