Jose Hurtado

Geological Sciences Building
El Paso Texas, 79968
Phone Logo(915) 747-5669
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Jose Miguel Hurtado
Professor, Earth, Environmental and Resource Sciences - Computational Science - Environmental Science and Engineering - Center for the Advancement of Space Safety and Mission Assurance Research (CASSMAR)

Dr. Hurtado's research expertise includes: field geology; remote sensing (including Uncrewed Aerial Systems, UAS); and terrestrial/planetary tectonics and geomorphology. He applies this expertise in two broad research areas: lunar geology and active tectonics in the Bhutan Himalaya. Dr. Hurtado's lunar geology work has focused on the use of remotely-sensed datasets to investigate potential in-situ resources on the Moon and their geologic context. This has included using thermal infrared data to discover and characterize caves in the lunar subsurface, hyperspectral data to map the presence of water and Ti, and topographic data to identify water-related volcanic features. He has also conducted extensive work, in collaboration with NASA, at a local planetary analog site (Kilbourne Hole, NM) to show how shallow geophysical tools (e.g., gravity, magnetics, GPR) and field-deployable instrumentation (e.g., XRF, LiDAR, UAS) can be used to characterize water-related explosive volcanic features on other planets. His Bhutan work has focused on field studies of Quaternary geomorphologic features (river terraces, fault scarps, etc.) that record ongoing tectonic uplift along the Himalayan range front. The objective of this work is to evaluate models for the evolution of the Bhutan Himalaya and for assessing seismic hazards. In addition to these research areas, Dr. Hurtado also has expertise in human space exploration through ongoing collaborations with NASA in mission simulation activities and astronaut crew training. Dr. Hurtado has also worked on various commercial spaceflight projects, including passenger training program and vehicle development with Virgin Galactic. A research area to which he devotes an increasing amount of attention is the use of uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) and advanced 3D imaging technologies in field geologic research, planetary exploration, and teaching. Dr. Hurtado is also pursuing collaborative research opportunities for developing instrumentation to deploy on the lunar surface and lunar surface operations in support of human and robotic exploration and crew training for planetary field geology.


  1. Tectonics and Geomorphology
  2. Field Geology
  3. Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing
  4. Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS)
  5. Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
  6. Human Spaceflight