Dr. Cynthia Y Cheung

Dr. Cynthia Y Cheung

  • emeritus
  • 301.286.2780
  • Mail Code: 695
  • Greenbelt , MD 20771
  • Employer: EMERITUS
  • Current Projects


    Simulation of plasma-surface interactions for the Moon and other airless bodies in the Solar System.

    Goddard Center for Astrobiology, EPO Lead

    Development of the Astrobiology Walk exhibit and related educational products.
    Webmaster for the Goddard Center for Astrobiology.


    2002 - Present

    Space Scientist

    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Planetary Magnetospheres Laboratory From 2009 to 2012, she was the PI and Director of the Lunar and Planetary Science Academy (LPSA), an intensive residential summer internship program for college/graduate students in science and engineering, http://science.gsfc.nasa.gov/690/LPSA

    From 2002 to 2007, she was a member of the Autonomous Nano-Technology Swarm (ANTS) group in the Solar System Exploration Division. She was the project manager responsible for the development and operation of ANTS tetrahedral robotic prototypes. She led several GSFC Internal R&D projects to develop critical robotic technologies for the Exploration Initiative. She also supported the Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (MMS) mission in end-to-end science data system development, and was the MMS Deputy Project Scientist from 2002-2005.
    1992 - 2002


    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Astrophysics Data Facility As Head of the Astronomical Data Center (ADC) till September 2002, she managed an online digital repository of several thousand astronomical catalogs for the international scientific community. She spearheaded the application of the eXtensible Markup Language and related Internet technology in both data interchange with other data centers and long-term data storage. She was a member of the GSFC Distributed Space System (DSS) Tiger Team (2000-2002) to develop advanced concepts for multi-spacecraft missions and was the technical lead in the area of data acquisition, processing, fusion and analysis. She was awarded a GSFC Research Fellowship in 2001-2002 to study DSS space-to-space and space-to-ground communications at the University of Maryland Center for Satellite and Hybrid Communication Networks.
    1986 - 1992

    Manager of Space Science Operations

    BDM International, NASA HQ She supported program management functions at the NASA HQ Astrophysics Division & HST Development Division, including advisory committees, flight program reviews and scientific proposal reveiws. 
    1982 - 1986

    Operations Astronomer

    Computer Sciences Corporation, Space Telescope Science Institute She was responsible for command and control of the first-generation HST science instruments. She also performed various systems engineering functions to optimize the observatory efficiency.
    1980 - 1982

    Research Analyst

    Computer Sciences Corporation, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Electrodynamics Branch She modeled radiative transfer through chemical clouds released from sounding rockets to study the electric and magnetic fields and the diffusion process in the Earth's atmosphere.

    Teaching Experience

    Since 1992, Dr. Cheung has been a mentor to students in various GSFC internship programs (SIECA, SIP, Sister Program, National Space Club Scholars, Public Service Internship, Senior Research Practicum, NASA Academy, SESI, Robotics Academy, and USRP). As the Project Manager of the Tetrahedral Robotics project, she hosted a large team of student interns (20-30 each year) between 2004 to 2007. She integrated the student activities with the R&D tasks performed by scientists and engineers to build three tetrahedral robotic prototypes.

    As the PI of the Lunar and Planetary Science Academy (LPSA), she  mentored a total of 77 inters and 6 staff assistants from 62 colleges nationwide between 2009 and 2012.  LPSA was a residential summer internship program designed to educate the next-generation NASA workforce in lunar and planetary science exploration.


    1980 - Ph.D., Astronomy, University of Maryland
    1972 - A.B. (with Distinction), Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley

    Professional Societies

    American Astronomical Society, 1980 - Present
    International Astronomical Union, 2000 - Present
    Member of IAU Commission 5 on Documentation and Astronomical Data
    Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2002 - Present


    Group Achievement Award for Outreach, Astrobiology Walk, 2013
    Goddard Exceptional Achievement Award for Outreach 2011
    GSFC Research Fellwoship 2001-2002
    Group Achievement Award, HEASARC, 1995

    NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration