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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!  |

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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.Sc. (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 & MaryDepartment of Geology

B.Sc. (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 (2022 - Present)

        NASA Ames Research Center, Division of Space Science and Astrobiology

        Bay Area Environmental Research Institute

NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow  (2020 - 2022)

        NASA Ames Research Center, Division of Space Science and Astrobiology

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

NASA Graduate Fellow (2016 - 2020)

        NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Planetary Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Laboratory

        Adviser: Dr. Gregory A. Neumann

Ph.D. Researcher (2015 - 2020)

        Brown University, Planetary Geosciences Group

        Adviser: Prof. James W. Head

NASA/APL Intern (Summers 2013, 2014, 2015)

        Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, MESSENGER Science Operations Center

        Adviser: Dr. Nancy L. Chabot

Research Assistant (Summers 2011, 2012)

        National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Laboratory of Analytical Biology

        Adviser: Director Lee A. Weigt

Mission Experience

Selected Robotic 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 Meteoroid Impacts Observer (LUMIO)

Team member of Science Working Groups: Surface Characterization and Impact Modeling. The goal of this ESA mission is to characterize the lunar and near-Earth meteoroid environment by imaging impact flashes on the farside of the Moon.  Observations will help constrain the spatial and temporal characteristics of meteoroids impacting the lunar surface.

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.

Human Exploration


Artemis Astronaut Crew Training

Co-Lead in the development of Artemis Crew training materials regarding lunar volatiles. Responsibilities include development and presentation of content to Artemis Crew members.

Joint EVA Test Team 5 (JETT-5)

JETT is a fully integrated mission-scale test to ensure successful surface operations and technology development for Artemis III. Mission Positions: Scrum Volatiles Lead and Real-Time Image Analysis Lead. 

Concept Studies


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.

Awards and Honors


2023-2024: NASA Ames Center Innovation Fund (PI: Caleb Adams)

  • "Robust 3D Terrain Modeling for Lunar Polar Operations and Science"

2023-2024: NASA Citizen Science Seed Funding Program (Science PI: Self)

  • ​"VIPER Rocks!" NNH22ZDA001N-CSSFP

2022-2025: NASA ROSES 2021 (PI: Self)

  • ​"The Mercury HOllows Retrieval NETwork (HORNET): Machine learning-driven mapping to assess hollow formation and evolution on the surface of Mercury" NNH21ZDA001N-DDAP

2022-2025: NASA SSERVI (PI: Dr. Jennifer Heldmann)

  • "Resources for Exploration & Science of OUR Cosmic Environment (RESOURCE)"

2022-2025: International Space Science Institute (Lead: Dr. Anna Galiano) 

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

2022-2025: 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"

2020-2022: 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"

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

  • "Analysis of Polar Deposits on Mercury and the Moon"

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

  • "Analysis of Polar Deposits on Mercury and the Moon"

2018-2019: Society of Exploration Geophysicists Award, Earl D. & Reba C. Griffin Memorial Scholarship

2015-2016: Brown Fellow, Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

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

Sumer 2014: Virginia Space Grant, Applied Physics Laboratory



2023: AGU Sci/Act Affiliate

2023: Tim Lee Outstanding Early Career Space Scientist

2022: Bernard Ray Hawke Next Lunar Generation Career Development AwardNASA Ames Group Honor Award, RESOURCE Team

2020: LPI Career Development Award

2019: Best Poster Award, International Symposium on Lunar and Planetary Science

2018: Sigma Xi Honorary Scientific Society Associate Member

2017: William & Mary Young Alumni Fellow

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

Invited Talks and Panels

2024 Mar 12: Citizen Science in the Era of Big Data, NASA HQ

  • "Ongoing Student-Led Development of New Citizen Science Platform: VIPER Rocks!​"

2023 Dec 6: NASA HQ, Washington, D.C.

  • "Deep Learning-Driven Mapping to Assess Hollow Formation and Evolution on Mercury"

2023 Aug 10: Endurance Science Workshop, CalTech, Pasadena, CA

  • "Science Measurements: Mineralogy, Chemistry, Geology"

2023 Jan 31: University of Central Florida

  • "Ice on Mercury - Science and Exploration"

2022 June 21: 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" 

2022 Feb 23: Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

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

2021 May 5: CalTech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences

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

2020 Nov 3: 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"

2020 June 3: Arecibo Observatory, Planetary Science Group

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

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

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

2019 July 19: Apollo 50 Panel with Apollo 17 Lunar Module Pilot Harrison H. "Jack" Schmitt, U.S.S. Hornet

  • "Lunar Geology: Past, Present, and Future"

2019 Mar 16: Microsympisum 60, The Woodlands, TX

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

2018 May 2: 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"

2017 Nov 4: Research Matters, Brown University

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

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

2017 July 17: LunGradCon, NASA Ames Research Center

  • "The Geology and Geophysics of the Moon"

2016 Mar 19: 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

2020: Lunar Surface Science Workshop, Early Career Scientist Travel Award

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

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

2018, 2019: Graduate School Council Travel Award, Brown University

2016, 2017, 2019: LunGradCon Travel Grant

2016, 2018: Brown University International Travel Grant

2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019: Brown University Graduate Travel Grant

Professional Activities and Community Service


Co-Lead, Decadal Survey White Paper

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

Co-Lead, Artemis Science White Paper

  • 2020: "Understanding the 3D Stratigraphy of Icy Regolith Deposits at the Lunar South Pole" (Co-Lead: Dr. Kevin M. Cannon)

Contributor, White Papers:

  • 2020: "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)

  • 2018: "Lunar Science Priorities for the Decade 2023-2032" (Lead: Dr. Erica R. Jawin)

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

  • 2017: "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

  • 2020: Lunar Surface Science Workshop: Volatiles

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

  • 2016: SSERVI Special Workshop: Lunar Volatiles

Organizing and Program Committees

2022: Lunar Polar Volatiles Conference

2021-2023: AGU Fall Meeting

  • 2023: P017: Forward to the Moon: Lunar Exploration Science

  • 2022: P018: Mercury at the Dawn of BepiColombo’s Era

  • 2021: P022: Mercury: Interdisciplinary Exploration Inside and Out

2021-2023: MExAG Annual Meeting

2016-2019: Brown University Microsymposium (Student Organizer)

  • 2019: Forward to the Moon to Stay: Transformative Lunar Science with Commercial Partners

  • 2018: The Chinese Lunar and Deep Space Exploration Program

  • 2017: Surface Composition and Sample Return: A New Era in Planetary Science

  • 2016: Polar Volatiles on the Moon and Mercury: Nature, Evolution, and Future Exploration


Student Mentoring


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

2016-2020: Spacecraft Design Engineering, Brown University

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

2018-2020: Writing Center Associate, The Writing Center, Brown University

2018, 2019: Panelist, The CareerLAB, Brown University

  • 12 Nov 2019: "Making the Graduate School Decision"

  • 14 Nov 2018: "Succeeding in Graduate School"

  • 9 Oct 2018: "Making the Graduate School Decision" 

2019: Panelist, The Leadership Alliance, Brown University 

  • 1 Aug 2019: "What's Grad School Like?"



2024: Summer Intern Advisor, Career Ready Internship (CRI) Program, Washington, D.C. Public High Schools

2022-2024: Technical Mentor, NASA Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) Team, McKinley Tech High School, Washington, D.C.

2023: Guest Speaker, McKinley Tech High School, Washington, D.C.

  • 20, 21 Dec 2023: "Using Computer Science in My Job at NASA"

2022, 2023: Guest Speaker, Eaglebrook Middle School, MA

  • 1 Mar 2023: "Science and Exploration at NASA"

  • 9, 10 Feb 2022: "Earth and Planetary Sciences at NASA"

2020, 2021: Guest Speaker, The Washington Leadership Academy, Washington, D.C.

  • 13 May 2021: "Applying Computer Science to Your Passions"

  • 8 May 2020:"Young Professionals Panel"

Community Service (*Applied for and was accepted)

2020-2023: Mercury Exploration Analysis Group (MExAG) Steering Committee Member*

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

  • Communications Working Group

2023: Guest Editor, "Lunar Polar Volatiles" Special Issue, Icarus

2022-2023: Topic Coordinator*, "Innovative Mission Design for the Exploration of Icy Moons" Special Issue, Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 

Peer Reviewer, Multiple Journals

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

2022: Science Mission Support Working Group (Chair: Dr. Pam Marcum)

2022: Solar System Body Resource Exploration (Chair: Dr. Jen Heldmann) 

Department Service, Brown University

2019-2020: Graduate Student Writing Group Co-Lead

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

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

2017-2020: First-Year Graduate Student Mentor

2017-2020: Diversity Working Group

2016-2017: 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

2016: 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.


2016: 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.

2013: 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.

2012: 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.

2011: 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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