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Ariel Deutsch

Research Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center

Hi, world! I'm interested in using

remote sensing + geophysical techniques to

unravel the evolution of other planetary bodies,

with a particular focus on volatiles and volcanism.

let's connect!  |




Brown University

Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences

Ph.D. (2020)

        Water Cycles of Mercury and the Moon: Sources, Evolution, and State of Polar Volatiles

        Adviser: Prof. James W. Head III

        NASA Technical Adviser: Dr. Gregory A. Neumann (GSFC)

        Committee Members: Prof. Carle M. Pieters, Prof. James M. Russell

        Outside Reader: Dr. Dana M. Hurley (JHU APL)

M.S. (2017)

        Constraining the Areal and Volumetric Distribution of Micro- and Macro-Cold Traps on the Surface of Mercury

        Adviser: Prof. James W. Head III

        NASA Technical Adviser: Dr. Gregory A. Neumann (GSFC)

        Committee Members: Prof. Carle M. Pieters, Prof. James M. Russell

The College of William & Mary

Department of Geology

B.S. (2014)

        Investigating Water Ice in Persistently Shadowed Craters in Mercury's North Polar Region

        Adviser: Dr. Joel S. Levine (Department of Applied Science)

        Committee Members: Prof. Christopher M. Bailey, Prof. Heather Macdonald, Prof. Eugene Tracy (Department of Physics)

Research Experience


Research Scientist

Division of Space Science and Astrobiology

NASA Ames Research Center / Bay Area Environmental Research Institute

2022 - Present


NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow

Division of Space Science and Astrobiology

Advisers: Dr. Jennifer L. Heldmann and Dr. Anthony Colaprete

NASA Ames Research Center

2020 - 2022


NASA Graduate Fellow

Planetary Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Laboratory

Adviser: Dr. Gregory A. Neumann

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

2016 - 2020


Ph.D. Researcher

Planetary Geosciences Group

​Adviser: Prof. James W. Head

Brown University

2015 - 2020



MESSENGER Science Operations Center

​Adviser: Dr. Nancy L. Chabot

Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University

Summers 2013, 2014, 2015


Research Assistant

Laboratory of Analytical Biology

​Adviser: Director Lee A. Weigt

National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Summers 2011, 2012

Mission Experience

Selected Missions

Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER)

Science Team, Real-Time Science Operations. VIPER will explore the south polar region of the Moon in search of water ice and other potential resources. We will learn about the origin and distribution of lunar water and how lunar resources can be utilized for future human space exploration. VIPER is planned for delivery to the lunar surface in late 2023. Project Scientist: Dr. Anthony Colaprete.


Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

Graduate Research Fellow at GSFC in the Planetary Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Laboratory from 2016 - 2020. Utilized LOLA, Diviner, and WAC data to analyze characteristics of ice at the lunar poles. Utilized LOLA and Diviner data to analyze temperature-dependent changes in the surface reflectance of the Moon. Project Scientist: Dr. Noah E. Petro. 

MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER)

Summer research intern in the Science Operations Center from 2014 - 2016. Utilized MDIS and MLA data to study the distribution of permanently shadowed regions, the distribution and characteristics of water-ice deposits, and the morphology of impact craters on Mercury. Presented at MESSENGER Science Team Meetings. Mission PI: Dr. Sean C. Soloman.

Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)

Graduate Research Fellow at GSFC in the Planetary Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Laboratory. Utilized gravitational and topographic data to constrain subsurface density structures that may contribute to positive Bouguer gravity anomalies on the nearside of the Moon. Mission PI: Dr. Maria T. Zuber.


IN Situ Solar system Polar Ice Roving Explorer (INSPIRE)

Science Team and Traverse Lead for priority mission concept requested by the National Academies Decadal Survey Committee. INSPIRE utilizes a long-duration rover (~750 km, 3 years) to address the origins, ages, and evolution of volatiles on planetary bodies. Rover capitalizes

on a pre-planned traverse and science stops with high degree of autonomy. Study Lead: Dr. Jen Heldmann, John Elliott. [Study Report]


Polar Ice Prospecting Explorer for Lunar No-light Environments (PIPELiNE): Science from Lunar Permanent Shadows

Science Lead on a proposed mission concept study to study volatile contents in lunar permanently shadowed regions. Mission science includes ground-truthing existing data and analyzing processes that modulate volatile distribution, the activity and transport of volatiles, volatile composition and chemistry, and thermophysical and geotechnical properties of shadowed regions. Study PI: Dr. Dana M. Hurley.

OrbitBeyond, Inc.

Student co-lead in collaboration between Brown University and OrbitBeyond, a US-based lunar transportation company. Helped to provide regional geologic context of landing sites and to develop a set of scientific targets and observational parameters to integrate science activities into upcoming missions.

Etna to Enceladus

Science PI in the Caltech Space Challenge 2019. Worked together with 15 other internationally selected students to design a landed sample assay and geophysical network to explore the habitability of Enceladus under the constraints of New Frontiers' requirements. Benefited under mentorship from JPL's A-Team and industry leaders. [Mission Fact Sheet]


Command and Data Handling (C&DH) lead and science team participant (geology and geophysics group) in the 2019 JPL Planetary Science Summer Seminar. Our team designed Bridge to study an as-of-yet undetected InterStellar Object. Flyby science consists of VIS-NIR-MIR spectral observations of the object's surface, as well as the object's sub-surface, enabled by a detached impactor.

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Concept Studies

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Awards and Honors



  "The Mercury HOllows Retrieval NETwork (HORNET): Machine learning-driven mapping to assess hollow formation and 

  evolution on the surface of Mercury"

International Space Science Institute (Lead: Dr. Anna Galiano)

   "Wide-Ranging Characterization of Explosive Volcanism on Mercury: Origin, Properties, and Modifications of Pyroclastic Deposits"

International Space Science Institute (Lead: Dr. Michelangelo Formisano)

   "Thermophysical characterization of ice-rich areas on the surface of planetary bodies: conditions for the formation of a transient exosphere"

NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, Ames Research Center

  "The nature and active evolution of polar volatiles on the Moon: Implications for in-situ resource applications and

  exploration strategies"

NASA AS&ASTAR Graduate Fellow, Goddard Space Flight Center (80NSSC19K1289)

  "Analysis of Polar Deposits on Mercury and the Moon"

NASA AS&ASTAR Graduate Fellow, Goddard Space Flight Center (NNX16AT19H)

  "Analysis of Polar Deposits on Mercury and the Moon"

Society of Exploration Geophysicists Award, Earl D. & Reba C. Griffin Memorial Scholarship
Brown Fellow, Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

Roland G.D. Richardson Fellow, Brown University

Virginia Space Grant, Applied Physics Laboratory


Bernard Ray Hawke Next Lunar Generation Career Development Award

NASA Ames Group Honor Award, RESOURCE Team
Apollo 50 Panel with Apollo 17 Lunar Module Pilot Harrison H. "Jack" Schmitt, U.S.S. Hornet

  "Lunar Geology: Past, Present, and Future"

LPI Career Development Award

Best Poster Award, International Symposium on Lunar and Planetary Science

Sigma Xi Honorary Scientific Society Associate Member

William & Mary Young Alumni Fellow

High Honors (Highest distinction), Department of Geology, College of William & Mary 

Invited Talks

IAPS-INAF Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Rome, Italy

  "Polar volatiles on Mercury and the Moon: Investigations of their delivery, evolution, and current state"
Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

  "(Mostly) Polar Volatiles on the Moon and Mercury"

CalTech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences

  "Understanding the Nature and Evolution of Polar Volatiles on Mercury and the Moon"

The National Academies of Science, Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032:

Panel on Mercury and the Moon

  "Science Opportunities Offered by Mercury's Ice-Bearing Polar Deposits"

Arecibo Observatory, Planetary Science Group

  "Understanding the Origin and Evolution of Polar Deposits on Mercury"

MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

  "Sources and Evolution of Polar Ice on Mercury and the Moon"

Microsympisum 60, The Woodlands, TX

  "An Example of Working with Commercial Partners: The OrbitBeyond Lunar Mare Imbrium Lava Flow Reference Mission"

Mercury: Current and Future Science of the Innermost Planet, USRA HQ

  "Differences Between Surface Ice Deposits at the Poles of Mercury and the Moon: Insights into Ages of the Ice"

Research Matters, Brown University

  "Ice on Mercury, The Moon, and Beyond"

SSERVI/NESF Autonomy for Future SMD Missions Workshop, NASA Ames Research Center

  "Exploration of Water Ice and Organics at the Poles of Mercury"

LunGradCon, NASA Ames Research Center

  "The Geology and Geophysics of the Moon"

Microsymposium 57, The Woodlands, TX

  "Mercury’s Polar Deposits as Revealed by MESSENGER Mission Image Data: ​Correlation of Radar Bright Deposits and

  Large PSRs"

Travel Grants

Lunar Surface Science Workshop, Early Career Scientist Travel Award

Larry Taylor Travel Fund for the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group

Mercury: Current and Future Science of the Innermost Planet Young Scientist Travel Award

Graduate School Council Travel Award, Brown University

LunGradCon Travel Grant

Brown University International Travel Grant

Brown University Graduate Travel Grant

2022 - 2025

2022 - 2025

2022 - 2025

2020 - Present



2019 - 2020


2016 - 2019

 2018 - 2019

2015 - 2016

2015 - 2016

Summer 2014​










1 June 2022


23 Feb 2022

5 May 2021


3 Nov 2020

3 June 2020


1 Oct 2019


16 Mar 2019

2 May 2018

4 Nov 2017

21 July 2017

17 July 2017

19 March 2016




2018, 2019

2016, 2017, 2019

2016, 2018

2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Professional Activities and Community Service






















2021, 2022, 2023







2016 - 2020

2016 - 2020

2018 - 2020

12 Nov 2019

14 Nov 2018

9 Oct 2018

1 Aug 2019


2022 - 2024

9, 10 Feb 2022


13 May 2021

8 May 2020

2020 - Present

2022 - Present

2020 - 2021






2019 - 2020

2019 - 2020

2017 - 2019

2017 - 2020

2017 - 2020

2016 - 2017


Co-Lead, Decadal Survey White Paper

      "Science Opportunities of Mercury's Ice-Bearing Polar Deposits" (Co-Lead: Dr. Nancy L. Chabot)

Co-Lead, Artemis Science White Paper

      "Understanding the 3D Stratigraphy of Icy Regolith Deposits at the Lunar South Pole" (Co-Lead: Dr. Kevin M. Cannon)

Contributor, White Papers:

      "Fundamental and Interdisciplinary Questions Drive the Scientific Exploration of Mercury" (Lead: Dr. Steven A. Hauck II)

      "Lunar Volatiles and Solar System Science" (Lead: Dr. Parvathy Prem)

      "Lunar Polar Volatiles Resources: Obtaining Their Origins Prior to Extraction" (Leads: Dr. William M. Farrell and Dr. Esther Beltran) (2020)

      "The Science Case for Lander or Rover Missions to a Lunar Magnetic Anomaly / Swirl" (Lead: Dr. David Blewett)

      "Lunar Science Priorities for the Decade 2023-2032" (Lead: Dr. Erica R. Jawin)

      "Lunar Polar Volatiles Workshop" (Lead: Dr. Kathleen E. Mandt)

      "Case for Landed Mercury Exploration and the Timely Need for a Mission Concept Study" (Lead: Dr. Paul K. Byrne)

Contributing Writer, New Views of the Moon 2, Lunar Volatiles Chapter (Leads: Dr. Dana M. Hurley and Dr. Matthew A. Siegler)

Executive Documentarian

      Lunar Surface Science Workshop: Volatiles

      Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Decadal Focus Group: Habitability

      SSERVI Special Workshop: Lunar Volatiles


Organizing and Program Committees

Lunar Polar Volatiles Conference

AGU Fall Meeting

     P018: Mercury at the Dawn of BepiColombo’s Era

     P022: Mercury: Interdisciplinary Exploration Inside and Out

MExAG Annual Meeting

Brown University Microsymposium (Student Organizer)

     Forward to the Moon to Stay: Transformative Lunar Science with Commercial Partners

     The Chinese Lunar and Deep Space Exploration Program

     Surface Composition and Sample Return: A New Era in Planetary Science

     Polar Volatiles on the Moon and Mercury: Nature, Evolution, and Future Exploration

Student Mentoring


NASA x Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Lunar Habitat Studio

Spacecraft Design Engineering, Brown University

Brown-Stanford Team Review, International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition

Writing Center Associate, The Writing Center, Brown University

Panelist, The CareerLAB, Brown University

     "Making the Graduate School Decision"

     "Succeeding in Graduate School"

     "Making the Graduate School Decision" 

Panelist, The Leadership Alliance, Brown University 

     "What's Grad School Like?"


Technical Mentor, NASA Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) Team, McKinley Tech High School, Washington, D.C.

Guest Speaker, Eaglebrook Middle School, MA

     "Earth and Planetary Sciences at NASA"

Guest Speaker, The Washington Leadership Academy, Washington, D.C.

     "Applying Computer Science to Your Passions"

     "Young Professionals Panel"

Community Service (*Applied for and was accepted)

Mercury Exploration Analysis Group (MExAG) Steering Committee Member*

     Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Working Group

     Communications Working Group

Topic Coordinator*, "Innovative Mission Design for the Exploration of Icy Moons," Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 

Reviewer, Earth and Space Science, Geophysical Research Letters, Icarus, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Nature Geoscience,

     Planetary and Space Sciences, Planetary Science Journal, Remote Sensing

NASA Review Panel Member

NASA External Reviewer

NASA Executive Secretary
Proposal Reviewer, Mercury Task Group, International Astronomical Union 
Dwornik Judge for Undergraduate Presentations, LPSC

Division Service, NASA Ames

Science Mission Support Working Group (Chair: Dr. Pam Marcum)

Solar System Body Resource Exploration (Chair: Dr. Jen Heldmann) 

Department Service, Brown University

Graduate Student Writing Group Co-Lead

Unelected Self-Appointed Collin Jackson Memorial Safety Officer of the Planetary Graduate Students (USACJMSOOTPGS)

Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWiSE) Co-President

First-Year Graduate Student Mentor

Diversity Working Group
GeoClub Co-President

Professional Memberships

BepiColombo Young Scientist Study Group (YSSG)

Sigma Xi Honorary Scientific Society

European Geophysical Union (EGU)

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG)

Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) 

Field Experience

The Sedimentary Rock Cycle on Mars and Earth, Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico (Brown University)

Conducted sedimentary descriptions and structural mapping of the Permian platform and basin outcrops of the Guadalupe mountains, terrestrial analogs for the chemical sedimentary rocks on the surface of Mars.


Biosignatures and the Search for Life on Mars, Nordic Summer School, Iceland (NASA/ESF)

Compared microbial abundances in the fresh Holuhraun lava field to those in river sediments to discuss implications for habitable environments on early Mars.

Changes in Ecuadorian Forestry Detected through GIS, Coastal Ecuador (The College of William & Mary)

Modeled the species distribution of red, white, and black mangroves in Ecuadorian estuaries and mapped the displacement of mangroves by shrimp farms since 1970 through orbital imagery.

Tropical Reef Environments, Gerace Research Center, San Salvador, Bahamas (The College of William & Mary)

Collected and analyzed core samples from the hypersaline Storr’s Lake to determine (1) sediment stratigraphy, (2) whether the lake’s contents originate locally or are allochthonous, and (3) whether carbonate production is dominantly organic or inorganic.

Identification of Fish Species through DNA Barcoding, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama (Smithsonian Institution)

Assembled DNA barcodes for fish species from the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I gene for genetic identification of previously uncatalogued fish species. Extracted DNA using spin-column protocol, viewed through gel electrophoresis, amplified via polymerase chain reaction, sequenced, and analyzed sequences and chromatograms. Submitted work into the global Barcode Of Life Data Systems.









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