Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Kelsey Evans Young


Kelsey Evans Young's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.6749
Org Code: 698
Mail Code 698
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Kelsey Young’s research focuses on the integration of science into human exploration. Specifically, Young investigates the science questions, tools and instruments, and operational concepts for the exploration of other planetary surfaces. She also focuses on science operations with NASA's Artemis campaign as both the Artemis Science Flight Operations Lead and in several other capacities. She conducts fieldwork in both impact cratered and volcanic terrains, and evaluates both of these dominant Solar System processes. Young investigates the incorporation of handheld and field portable instruments and technologies into lunar and martian exploration. She conducts research in a number of analog environments, including impact craters, volcanoes, and underwater locations, to simulate a variety of aspects of human space exploration. 

Research Interests

Incorporation of science into human spaceflight

Solar System: Planetary Geology

Young works to integrate science priorities and objectives into the human exploration of other planetary surfaces. She works with the flight operations community to develop strategies and procedures for the surface and orbital exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Studies of impact craters and volcanology

Solar System: Planetary Geology

Young studies impact cratering and volcanology, two dominant surface processes that shape many Solar System bodies. She evaluates lava flow emplacement and modification through a combination of fieldwork and field and laboratory-based geochemistry. She also investigates the bombardment history of the inner Solar System and the impact cratering process by completing fieldwork at terrestrial impact structures and conducting laboratory work on terrestrial and lunar impact samples.

Current Projects

Artemis Science Flight Operations Lead

Since 2022, Dr. Young has served as the Artemis Science Flight Operations Lead for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD). She is responsible for leading the integration of the Artemis Science Team into the broader Artemis flight control structure, as well as coordinating the overall architecture and communications of the lunar science and payload teams within the larger Mission Control flight control framework. She also coordinates Artemis Science Team onboarding and training, the physical workspace and required resources for Science Team operations, and the Science Evaluation Room (SER) training flow. Finally, she manages the generation of all science operations pre-mission products and inputs.

Artemis 2 Lunar Observations and Imaging Campaign Lead

Dr. Young is the lead for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD)'s lunar science objectives for the Artemis 2 mission, including observations and photography of the Moon and the Earth. She is responsible for integrating these objectives into pre-mission planning, timelining, operations product generation, and testing, as well as solidifying and executing the science operations structure for the mission. She also participates in crew training to support these objectives.

NASA Astronaut Training and Field Leadership

Dr. Young is on the leadership team for geoscience training for NASA astronauts (Astronaut Candidates and assigned crew) and other personnel. She develops and delivers both classroom and field training, as well as serves as the Field Lead for several of NASA's science field training sites.


Research Space Scientist

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

April 2018 - Present

Exploration Scientist

Jacobs/UTEP at NASA Johnson Space Center - NASA JSC

August 2016 - April 2018

Postdoctoral Research Associate

CRESST/University of Maryland, College Park - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory

July 2014 - August 2016

Graduate Student Research Associate

Arizona State University - School of Earth and Space Exploration

July 2013 - May 2014


NASA Graduate Student Research Fellow

Arizona State University/NASA Johnson Space Center - School of Earth and Space Exploration

July 2010 - July 2013

Graduate Student Research Associate

Arizona State University - School of Earth and Space Exploration

August 2009 - July 2010



2014 - PhD – Geological Sciences, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

2012 – M.S. – Geological Sciences, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

2009 – B.S. – Geological Sciences, Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Geosciences, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN

Professional Service

2021-2022 Member, SMD CaRI Team (Contamination and Research Integrity) to provide science analysis across Artemis

Sept-Nov 2020 Artemis III Science Definition Team

2020 - Present Organizing Committee and Session Chair, Lunar Surface Science Workshop

2018 - Present  Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Executive Committee, Human Exploration Chair

2018 - Present  NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Colloquium Committee

Session Chair at Numerous Scientific Meetings (AGU, LPSC, GSA, NASA Exploration Science Forum, etc.)

Section Co-Lead, New Views of the Moon II Book Volume, Future Lunar Exploration



NASA Early Career Achievement Medal - 2020

NASA Group Achievement Award: ISFM (Internal Scientist Funding Model) Team - 2020

NASA Group Achievement Award: Awarded to the 2010 Desert-RATS Science Team – Awarded 2011

Other Professional Information

Relevant Experience:

Co-Lead of the Goddard Instrument Field Team

Theme Lead and Field Lead, RISE2 SSERVI Team

Theme Lead, GEODES SSERVI Team

Science Lead and Mission Management Team, NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) Project

Core Team Member and Trainer, NASA Astronaut Training Leadership Team

Co-Investigator, Heimdall Instrument Team (PI A. Yingst)

Principal Investigator, SHyRE PSTAR Team (Scientific Hybrid Reality Environments)

Principal Investigator, TubeX PSTAR Team

Job-Related Training:

2023  NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) Wilderness First Aid

2023  NOLS CPR and AED

2019  American Red Cross CPR, First Aid, and CPR

2017  NOLS Leadership and Team Skills backpacking course, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Invited Presentations:

2017  Invited Presentation, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

2017  Invited Speaker and Panelist, Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium, “Exploration Telepresence”

2017  Keynote Speaker, University of Texas, El Paso’s Annual Geology Department Colloquium

2017  Poster, Invitation-only Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop, “Developing Science Operations Concepts for the Future of Planetary Surface Exploration”

2016  Invited Presentation, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, “Preparing for the Next Generation of Crewed Planetary Surface Exploration: Incorporating Field Portable Technology”

2016  Invited Presentation, GSFC Solar System Exploration Division Director’s Seminar

2015  Invited Presentation, Franklin & Marshall College

2015  Invited Presentation, Stony Brook University

2015  Invited Presentation, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

2014  Invited Presentation, Lunar and Planetary Institute

Outreach Experience

Speaker on numerous TV networks, NASA lunar events (Supermoon events, eclipses, etc.)

Invited Speaker on NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green's 'Gravity Assist' podcast, 2019

TV shots for TV and Radio interviews for Apollo 50th Anniversary, 2019

Featured Speaker on inaugural episode of NASA Science Live, airing on NASA TV and NASA's YouTube and Facebook channels, 2019

Invited panelist, GeekGirlCon, Careers at NASA Panel, 2018

Featured speaker at NASA's Solar Eclipse Event at Homestead National Monument, NE, 2017

Field Experience

Field Lead in Hawaii, California, New Mexico

Group Lead in Icelandic Highlands

Fieldwork in remote Canada (Haughton, Mistastin Lake, and West Clearwater impact structures)

Crewmember, NASA Desert Research and Technology Studies (RATS) Analog Mission, 2010

Submersible Pilot and Science Team Lead, NASA Neoteric eXploration Technologies (NXT) Analog Mission, 2019

NASA Working Diver, NASA NEEMO Project


Selected Publications


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 Incorporation of Field Portable Instrumentation Into Human Planetary Surface Exploration." Earth and Space Science 5 24 [10.1029/2018ea000378] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Incorporation of Portable Infrared Spectral Imaging Into Planetary Geological Field Work: Analog Studies at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii, and Potrillo Volcanic Field, New Mexico." Earth and Space Science 5 21 [10.1029/2018ea000375] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "Visible, near-infrared, and mid-infrared spectral characterization of Hawaiian fumarolic alteration near Kilauea's December 1974 flow: Implications for spectral discrimination of alteration environments on Mars." American Mineralogist 103 (1): 11-25 [10.2138/am-2018-6116] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "A review of the handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer as a tool for field geologic investigations on Earth and in planetary surface exploration." Applied Geochemistry 72 77-87 [10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.07.003] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Pre-Mission Input Requirements to Enable Successful Sample Collection by a Remote Field/EVA Team." Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments 12 (1): [10.7771/2327-2937.1071] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "The effect of different operations modes on science capabilities during the 2010 Desert RATS test: Insights from the geologist crewmembers." Acta Astronautica 90 (2): 356-366 [DOI:10.1016/j.actaastro.2011.10.018] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Field geologic observation and sample collection strategies for planetary surface exploration: Insights from the 2010 Desert RATS geologist crewmembers." Acta Astronautica 90 (2): 344-355 [DOI:10.1016/j.actaastro.2011.10.015] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Tools and technologies needed for conducting planetary field geology while on EVA: Insights from the 2010 Desert RATS geologist crewmembers." Acta Astronautica 90 (2): 332-343 [DOI:10.1016/j.actaastro.2011.10.016] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Impact thermochronology and the age of Haughton impact structure, Canada." Geophysical Research Letters 40 3836-3840 [doi:10.1002/grl.50745] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Desert Research and Technology Studies (DRATS) 2010 science operations: Operational approaches and lessons learned for managing science during human planetary surface missions." Acta Astronautica 90 224-241 [DOI:10.1016/j.actaastro.2012.03.009] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Geology of the King crater region: New insights into impact melt dynamics on the Moon." Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets 117 (E00H29): [10.1029/2011JE003990] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "GeoLab - A habitat-based laboratory for preliminary examination of geological samples." Acta Astronautica 90 (2): 289-300 [10.1016/j.actaastro.2011.12.008] [Journal Article/Letter]