Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Daniel P. Moriarty

(Assistant Research Scientist)

Daniel P. Moriarty's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.6843
Org Code: 698
Mail Code 698
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Dr. Daniel Moriarty's research interests focus on addressing high-priority lunar and planetary science questions using integrated remote sensing analyses in the context of laboratory experiments, lunar sample analyses, and numerical simulations. This approach is well-suited for supporting NASA’s exploration goals,and has facilitated participation on several teams planning the Artemis crewed mission to Moon, as well as several other planetary missions and concept studies. This approach is a powerful tool for building synergy and cohesion between independent data, enabling unique insight into critical science and exploration goals.

Dr. Moriarty's research draws primarily on mineralogical analyses of hyperspectral data obtained from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), an instrument that flew onboard the Chandrayaan-1 mission to the Moon during 2008-2009. M3 offers the highest combined spatial and spectral resolution coverage of the lunar surface,and is therefore the best tool currently available to understand compositional variations (including hydration) across the Moon. As a member of the M3 science team (2010-2012), Dr. Moriarty was involved in the calibration and distribution of instrument data. In subsequent years, Dr. Moriarty has continued to work with this data, developing and validating a suite of spectral parameters relevant to mineralogy, optical maturity, and volatile abundance. Furthermore, Dr. Moriarty recently have been working specifically on techniques to improve the usefulness of M3 data in the face of challenging illumination conditions at high latitudes relevant to Artemis and the upcoming VIPER robotic mission to the lunar south pole. M3 analyses are strengthened through integration with other remote sensing data, which Dr. Moriarty processes, georeferences, and integrates in IDL, ENVI, ISIS2, and ArcMap. Dr. Moriarty also has experience conducting laboratory measurements of lunar samples and simulants, including temperature-programmed water desorption in ultra-high vacuum simulating lunar environmental conditions.

Dr. Moriarty has published research on a broad variety of lunar and planetary science topics in a number of journals including Nature Communications, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Geophysical Research, Meteoritics and Planetary Science, and the Planetary Science Journal. Recently, Dr. Moriarty has focused on understanding the formation and evolution of the lunar crust and mantle by probing deep stratigraphic relationships revealed by the South Pole – Aitken Basin, the Moon’s largest and oldest impact basin. Dr. Moriarty's work has integrated three-dimensional impact models with compositional remote sensing data and geochemical/dynamical models of lunar differentiation to identify and characterize ancient mantle materials excavated by this basin. These results have important implications for lunar evolution,and establish the distribution of high-priority sites for future landed lunar missions. Additionally, Dr. Moriarty has recently published research on the Moon’s volcanic diversity, the fundamentals of deriving compositional information from spectroscopy of pyroxene-bearing lithologies, and landing site analyses supporting Artemis and other robotic missions.  

Dr. Moriarty is currently participating on several teams directly supporting the Artemis crewed mission to the lunar south pole. He currently serves as the System Manager for Surface Environments in the Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program Office, Systems Engineering and Integration Branch. Dr. Moriarty is a critical member of Artemis support teams including: Lunar Site Planning and Design (providing maps and integrated remote sensing analyses of candidate landing site layouts), the Science Objectives Technical Assessment Team (providing scientific insight to develop science goals), Artemis Extravehicular Activity Geographic Information System Team, and Data Team (to identify and catalog available data products for candidate landing sites). Several of these teams fall under the Cross-Artemis Site Selection and Analysis Team, formed by NASA to ensure that proper technical analyses are performed to facilitate site selection and planning. Dr. Moriarty's specific contributions include integrating diverse remote sensing data and derived products in ArcMap GIS software to provide an overview of terrain traversability, landing site safety, hazard avoidance, environmental conditions (illumination and thermal environment), and science targets. Dr. Moriarty also provides insight into science goals relevant to mineralogy and composition of the landing region through my analyses of Moon Mineralogy Mapper hyperspectral data (integrated with a full suite of compositional remote sensing products).  

Research Interests

The South Pole - Aitken Basin

Solar System: Planetary Geology

Through several publications, Daniel has significantly contributed to the understanding of the vast South Pole - Aitken Basin on the lunar farside.  His work has clarified the compositional structure of the basin and identified several features possibly related to unusual volcanic activity, including the South Pole Aitken Compositional Anomaly (SPACA) and Mafic Mound. 

Instrument and Mission Development

Solar System: Technology & Missions

Dr. Moriarty has served as a team member, Co-I, and deputy PI for several missions and mission concept studies seeking to better our scientific understanding of fundamental questions relevant to solar system formation and evolution.  These missions range from unique orbital spectrometers to robotic sample return missions to astronaut-deployed sensors.


Assistant Research Faculty

University of Maryland - College Park, MD

2020 - Present

Postdoctoral Fellow

NASA Postdoctoral Program - Goddard Space Flight Center

August 2017 - 2020

Advisor: Noah Petro

Full-Time Visiting Lecturer

Community College of Rhode Island - Providence, RI

September 2016 - May 2017

Dr. Moriarty taught several lecture and laboratory courses (involving fieldwork) related to geology, oceanography, and Earth science.  

Postdoctoral Researcher

Brown University - Providence, RI

May 2016 - August 2016

Advisor:  Carle Pieters


  • 2010-2016 Ph.D., Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI. Dissertation: A Compositional Assessment of the Enormous South Pole - Aitken Basin Grounded in Laboratory Spectroscopy of Pyroxene-Bearing Materials
  • 2010-2012 Sc.M., Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI.
  • 2005-2009 Sc.B., Astrophysics, Physics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Selected Publications


2023. "Orbital Characterization of the Composition and Distribution of Spinels across the Crisium Region: Insight from Luna 20 Samples." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets [10.1029/2022je007482] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Multiple Shallow Crustal Origins for Spinel‐Bearing Lithologies on the Moon: A Perspective From the Luna 20 Mission." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 127 (11): [10.1029/2022je007249] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Identifying Impact Melt from the Smythii Basin: Toward an Improved Chronology for Lunar Basin Formation." The Planetary Science Journal 3 (2): 48 [10.3847/psj/ac51e2] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "The search for lunar mantle rocks exposed on the surface of the Moon." Nature Communications 12 (1): 4659 [10.1038/s41467-021-24626-3] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "In Situ Geochronology for the Next Decade: Mission Designs for the Moon, Mars, and Vesta." The Planetary Science Journal 2 (4): 145 [10.3847/psj/abedbf] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "The Scientific Value of a Sustained Exploration Program at the Aristarchus Plateau." The Planetary Science Journal 2 (4): 136 [10.3847/psj/abfec6] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Evidence for a Stratified Upper Mantle Preserved within the South Pole – Aitken Basin." Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets [10.1029/2020JE006589] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Impact Melt Facies in the Moon's Crisium Basin: Identifying, Characterizing, and Future Radiogenic Dating." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets [10.1029/2019JE006024] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "The Character of South Pole-Aitken Basin: Patterns of Surface and Subsurface Composition." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 123 (3): 729-747 [10.1002/2017je005364] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Complexities in pyroxene compositions derived from absorption band centers: Examples from Apollo samples, HED meteorites, synthetic pure pyroxenes, and remote sensing data." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 51 (2): 207-234 [10.1111/maps.12588] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "The nature and origin of Mafic Mound in the South Pole-Aitken Basin." Geophysical Research Letters 42 (19): 7907-7915 [10.1002/2015gl065718] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "The distribution of Mg-spinel across the Moon and constraints on crustal origin." American Mineralogist 99 (10): 1893-1910 [10.2138/am-2014-4776] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Compositional heterogeneity of central peaks within the South Pole-Aitken Basin." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 118 (11): 2310-2322 [10.1002/2013je004376] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Goldschmidt crater and the Moon's north polar region: Results from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3)." Journal of Geophysical Research 116 [Full Text] [10.1029/2010JE003702] [Journal Article/Letter]


2021. "A Next Generation Lunar Orbiter Mission." Vol. 53, Issue 4 (Planetary/Astrobiology Decadal Survey Whitepapers) 53 (4): e-id. 330 [10.3847/25c2cfeb.8f28f012] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Curie: Constraining Solar System Bombardment Using In Situ Radiometric Dating." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 49 [Proceedings]

2016. "Impact Melt and Magmatic Processes in Central South Pole---Aitken Basin." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 47 1735 [Proceedings]

2016. "South Pole---Aitken Basin as a Probe to the Lunar Interior." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 47 1763 [Proceedings]

2014. "LSCC Samples as Ground Truth: Using Spectral Parameters Developed for M3 Data to Assess Composition and Maturity." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 45 2532 [Proceedings]

2014. "Atypical regolith processes hold the key to enigmatic lunar swirls." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 45 1408 [Proceedings]

2013. "NW-Central South Pole-Aitken: Compositional Diversity, Geologic Context, and Implications for Basin Evolution." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 44 3039 [Proceedings]

2013. "Pyroclastic Deposits in Floor-Fractured Craters: A Unique Style or Lunar Basaltic Volcanism?." LPSC [Proceedings]

2013. "Compositional Evolution of the early lunar crust: Observed diverse mineralogy of the upper and lower crust." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 44 2545 [Proceedings]

2012. "Compositional heterogeneity within lunar central peaks." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 43 [Proceedings]

2012. "Asteroid and lunar environment chamber (ALEC): Simulated asteroid and lunar environments for measuring analog materials." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 43 [Proceedings]

2011. "Compositional structure of the lower lunar crust: Initial constraints from basin mineralogy." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 42 2173 [Proceedings]

2011. "A mineralogical survey of lunar crater central peaks with moon mineralogy mapper data: First results." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 42 2556 [Proceedings]

2011. "Finsen and Alder: A compositional study of lunar central peak craters in the South Pole-Aitken basin." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 42 2564 [Proceedings]

2010. "Near-far IR spectra of sulfide minerals relevant to comets." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 41 2447 [Proceedings]

2010. "Thermal stability of water and hydroxyl on airless bodies." Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 41 2417 [Proceedings]

Professional Service

2016 NASA SSO Review Panel, Executive Secretary

2014-2016 Brown University DEEPS Diversity Working Group Member

2014 SSERVI LunGradCon Organizing Committee

2010-2012 Moon Mineralogy Mapper Science Team Member

Daniel has also served as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals, NASA review panels, and internal GSFC proposal reviews.  

Teaching Experience

Daniel Moriarty has held a full-time Visiting Lecturer Position at the Community College of Rhode Island, an educational institution that provides undergraduate-level classes to both traditional and non-traditional students.  At CCRI, he taught a breadth of undergraduate-level courses in geology, oceanography, and Earth sciences.  These courses included lectures and laboratory components, as well as short field trips. This was an intensive teaching experience, with a heavy course load.  

Dr. Moriarty has served as a teaching assistant at Brown University for several similar classes.  He has also run tutorials for research peers on using Moon Mineralogy Mapper data.