Ariel Deutsch

NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow,

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

NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow

Division of Space Science and Astrobiology

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

NASA Ames Research Center

2020 - Present

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

Summer 2015


MESSENGER Science Operations Center

​Adviser: Dr. Nancy L. Chabot

Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University

Summer 2014


MESSENGER Science Operations Center

Adviser: Dr. Nancy L. Chabot

Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University

Summer 2013

Research Assistant

Laboratory of Analytical Biology

​Adviser: Director Lee A. Weigt

National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Summer 2012

Research Intern

Laboratory of Analytical Biology

​Adviser: Director Lee A. Weigt

National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Summer 2011


Awards and Honors


NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, Ames Research Center (2020-Present)

NASA AS&ASTAR Graduate Fellow, Goddard Space Flight Center (80NSSC19K1289) (2019-2020)

NASA AS&ASTAR Graduate Fellow, Goddard Space Flight Center (NNX16AT19H) (2016-2019)

Society of Exploration Geophysicists Award, Earl D. & Reba C. Griffin Memorial Scholarship (2018-2019)
Brown Fellow, Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences (2015-2016)

Roland G.D. Richardson Fellow, Brown University (2015-2016)

Virginia Space Grant, Applied Physics Laboratory (Summer 2014)


NASA Ames Group Honor Award, RESOURCE Team (2020)

Steering Committee, Mercury Exploration Assessment Group (MExAG) (2020-2022)

JPL Planetary Science Summer Seminar (Concept Study: A Bridge to an Interstellar Object) (2019)

Apollo 50 Panel with Apollo 17 Lunar Module Pilot Harrison H. "Jack" Schmitt, U.S.S. Hornet (2019)

  "Lunar Geology: Past, Present, and Future"

Caltech Space Challenge (Concept Study: Etna to Enceladus) (2019)

LPI Career Development Award (2019)

Best Poster Award, International Symposium on Lunar and Planetary Science (2018)

Sigma Xi Honorary Scientific Society Associate Member (2018)

William & Mary Young Alumni Fellow (2017)

High Honors (Highest distinction), Department of Geology, College of William & Mary (2014)

Invited Talks

CalTech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences (5 May 2021)

  "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  (3 Nov 2020)

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

Arecibo Observatory, Planetary Science Group (3 June 2020)

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

MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (1 Oct 2019)

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

Microsympisum 60, The Woodlands, TX (16 Mar 2019)

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

Mercury: Current and Future Science of the Innermost Planet, USRA HQ (2 May 2018)

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

Research Matters Nominee and Selected Speaker, Brown University (4 Nov 2017)

  "Ice on Mercury, The Moon, and Beyond"

SSERVI/NESF Autonomy for Future SMD Missions Workshop, NASA Ames Research Center (21 July 2017)

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

LunGradCon, NASA Ames Research Center (17 July 2017)

  "The Geology and Geophysics of the Moon"

Microsymposium 57, The Woodlands, TX (19 March 2016)

  "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 (2020)

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

Mercury: Current and Future Science of the Innermost Planet Young Scientist Travel Award (2018)

Graduate School Council Travel Award, Brown University (2018, 2019)

LunGradCon Travel Grant (2016, 2017, 2019)

Brown University International Travel Grant (2016, 2018)

Brown University Graduate Travel Grant (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)

2020 - Present

2019 - 2020

2016 - 2019

2018 - 2019

2015 - 2016

2015 - 2016

Summer 2014​


2020 - 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

Mission Experience

Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER)

Science Team. 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.

Science from Lunar Permanently Shadowed Regions (Concept Study)

Science Lead on a proposed mission concept study (not selected) to further our understanding of the volatile contents in lunar permanently shadowed regions. Compelling mission science was focused on 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 permanently shadowed regions. Study PI: Dr. Dana M. Hurley.

OrbitBeyond, Inc. (NASA CLPS Provider)

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 (Concept Study)

Science PI in the Caltech Space Challenge 2019. Worked together with 15 other internationally selected students to design a landed sample assay + 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]

Bridge (Concept Study)

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.

Messenger patch.png

Professional Activities and Service


















2016 - 2019

2019 - 2020

2017 - 2019

2017 - 2020

2017 - 2020

2016 - 2017


2016 - 2020

2016 - 2020

2018 - 2020

13 May 2021

8 May 2020

1 Aug 2019

12 Nov 2019

14 Nov 2018

9 Oct 2018


Co-Lead, Decadal Survey White Paper

      "Science Opportunities of Mercury's Ice-Bearing Polar Deposits" (Co-Lead: Dr. Nancy L. Chabot) (2020)

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) (2020)

Contributor, White Papers:

      "Fundamental and Interdisciplinary Questions Drive the Scientific Exploration of Mercury" (Lead: Dr. Steven A. Hauck II) (2020)

      "Lunar Volatiles and Solar System Science" (Lead: Dr. Parvathy Prem) (2020)

      "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) (2020)

      "Lunar Science Priorities for the Decade 2023-2032" (Lead: Dr. Erica R. Jawin) (2020)

      "Lunar Polar Volatiles Workshop" (Lead: Dr. Kathleen E. Mandt) (2018)

      "Case for Landed Mercury Exploration and the Timely Need for a Mission Concept Study" (Lead: Dr. Paul K. Byrne) (2018)

Contributing Writer, New Views of the Moon 2, Lunar Volatiles Chapter (Leads: Dr. Dana M. Hurley and Dr. Matthew A. Siegler) (2017)

Executive Documentarian

      Lunar Surface Science Workshop: Volatiles (2020)

      Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Decadal Focus Group: Habitability (2019)

      SSERVI Special Workshop: Lunar Volatiles (2016)

Student Organizer, Microsymposium Conference, Woodlands TX (2016-2019)

Department Service, Brown University

Unelected Self-Appointed Collin Jackson Memorial Safety Officer of the Planetary Graduate Students (USACJMSOOTPGS) (2019-2020)

Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWiSE) Co-President (2017-2019)

First-Year Graduate Student Mentor (2017-2020)

Diversity Working Group (2017-2020)
GeoClub Co-President (2016-2017)

Student Mentoring

NASA x Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Lunar Habitat Studio (2020)

Spacecraft Design Engineering, Brown University (2016-2020)

Brown-Stanford Team Review, International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition (2016-2020)

Writing Center Associate, The Writing Center, Brown University (2018-2020)

Panelist, The Washington Leadership Academy

     "Applying Computer Science to your Passions" (13 May 2021)

     "Young Professionals Panel" (8 May 2020)

Panelist, The Leadership Alliance, Brown University 

     "What's Grad School Like?" (1 Aug 2019)

Panelist, The CareerLAB, Brown University

     "Making the Graduate School Decision" (12 Nov 2019)

     "Succeeding in Graduate School" (14 Nov 2018)

     "Making the Graduate School Decision" (9 Oct 2018)


Community Service

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


Professional Memberships

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.