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Cindy L. Young (NASA)

Title: Research Physical Scientist
Technical Focus Areas: Climate Science, Planetary Science
Mission/Project: ARCSTONE
Study Topics: Developing and maturing new Earth and Planetary Science instrument and mission concepts; Lunar Calibration.


Dr. Cindy L. Young was born in rural Appalachia. At age 16, she became the first in her parents’ direct lineage to attend college classes, earning an Associate of Science degree at Young Harris College while completing her high school diploma. Dr. Young credits the family generations before her and many amazing teachers for opening doors to opportunities that would have otherwise been unlikely. Dr. Young is planetary science lead in LaRC’s Science Directorate and works on both Earth and Planetary Science research and instrument/mission concepts. Overall, she has participated in conceiving, maturing, and/or proposing 9 concepts (6 for Planetary Science and 3 for Earth Science). She is Principal Investigator of Trutinor (a small satellite concept for measuring Earth’s radiation budget), lead scientist for ARCSTONE (technology demonstration for high-accuracy lunar disk measurements), Deputy PI of CHARISMA (a space telescope concept for planetary science), Co-Investigator on NICEcube (nitric oxide cooling emissions cubesat), and has received a new investigator award in Earth Science for extending the spectral range of the RObotic Lunar Observatory (ROLO) model to climate science-relevant wavelengths. Before LaRC, she worked as a postdoc analyzing surface spectra from Cassini and developing analogs for airless bodies in the Ocean Worlds Lab at JPL. She also served as Atmospheric Science Lead for the OCEANUS Uranus orbiter and probe concept study as part of JPL’s Planetary Science Summer Seminar (PSSS). Dr. Young holds both a PhD (in atmospheric science and volcanology) and a master’s degree (in chemical oceanography) from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Select Publications

Virtual Presentations

Notable Awards

  • Selected NASA ROSES New Investigator (Early Career) Proposal (NIP) in Earth Science (2021):
    “Extending the spectral range of the RObotic Lunar Observatory (ROLO) model to climate science-relevant wavelengths.”
  • Serial LaRC Internal Research & Development (IRAD) award winner (FY2020 – FY2022)

Professional Memberships

  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • Japan Geophysical Union (JpGU)
  • Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG)


  • Ph.D., Remote Sensing, Atmospheric Aerosols, & Volcanology, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, 2014
  • M.S., Geochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, 2009

Professional Employment History

  • 2021 – Present, Lead Scientist, ARCSTONE InVEST Project
  • 2017 – Present, Physical Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA
  • 2014 – 2016, Postdoctoral Researcher, Georgia Institute of Technology & Emory University


  • Martial arts, outdoor adventuring, stargazing, kitties.