Nov. 1, 2015, Tucson, Ariz. — R. Aileen Yingst has been honored as a Geological Society of America Fellow for her significant research in planetary geology, leadership roles in multiple planetary missions, work in training the next generation of planetary geoscientists through a decade of leadership in NASA’s Space Grant Program, and for her work in contributing to the public awareness of planetary geoscience.

Yingst, a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, was involved with the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Polar Lander missions. She was a Participating Scientist on the Mars Exploration Rovers and the Dawn mission when it was at Vesta and is currently a Dawn Associate at Ceres. She is very involved with the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, as a Co-Investigator on the Mast Camera (Mastcam) and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI), and she is the Deputy Principal Investigator for the Mars HandLens Imager.

Yingst uses her extensive fieldwork experience on Earth to improve science operations on Mars and maximize the science return from missions there. She is expert in the shape and texture of Martian rocks and sedimentary clasts at a pebble and cobble-sized scale. At larger geographical scales, she uses photogeologic and spectroscopic data to map out and identify relationships among geological units to understand their formation and history.

“I am honored to be named a GSA fellow; it was a complete surprise. What moved me the most was that my colleagues took time out of their busy schedules — and some of them are crazy busy — to put together my application to make this possible,” Yingst said.

Yingst was honored at the 2015 GSA Annual Meeting Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony held Nov. 1 in Baltimore.

Yingst received a certificate and will be designated Fellow at future GSA events.
“In addition to being a first-rate scientist, Dr. Yingst is good at communicating with and understanding all the different experts that make a mission work,” said Mark Sykes, PSI Director and CEO. “She is also excellent at conveying that information to public. Her recognition by the GSA is well-deserved.”

Visit for a photo of Yingst.

R. Aileen Yingst
Senior Scientist

Mark V. Sykes




The Planetary Science Institute is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to solar system exploration. It is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, where it was founded in 1972.

PSI scientists are involved in numerous NASA and international missions, the study of Mars and other planets, the Moon, asteroids, comets, interplanetary dust, impact physics, the origin of the solar system, extra-solar planet formation, dynamics, the rise of life, and other areas of research. They conduct fieldwork on all continents around the world. They also are actively involved in science education and public outreach through school programs, children’s books, popular science books and art.

PSI scientists are based in 21 states and the District of Columbia, and work from various locations around the world.