Meet NASA Astronaut & Artemis Team Member Jessica Watkins [Video]

NASA image of astronaut Jessica Watkins. Credit: NASA

NASA Astronaut Jessica Watkins is a member of Team Artemis, a select group of astronauts tasked with focusing on development and training efforts for Artemis’ early missions.

Jessica Watkins was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. Watkins reported for duty in August 2017 and completed two years of training as an Astronaut candidate. The Colorado native earned a Bachelor of Science in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Watkins conducted her graduate research on the devices for major landslides Mars and the Earth. She has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and was a science team colleague for NASA’s Rover Science Lab, Curiosity.

As a graduate researcher at UCLA, Watkins studied the surface processes of Mars, focusing his Ph.D. exploration of major landslide devices on Mars and Earth through orbital imaging and spectrum data analysis, geological mapping, and site work. While at UCLA, she was also a teaching assistant for several courses in earth and planetary science. At the time of her June 2017 election, Watkins was a graduate employee in the Department of Geological and Planning Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborated as a member of the Science Team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity . Her work there included participation in daily planning of rover activity, testing of Mars rock physical buildings using rover drill parameters, and a multi-scale study of the geological history of the Gale crater, Mars. While at Caltech, Dr. Watkins was also a volunteer assistant coach for the Caltech Women’s Basketball team.

During undergraduate internships at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Watkins researched Mars earth symbols supporting the Phoenix Mars Lander mission. As a graduate student, Watkins participated in several internships at NASA’s Jet Devolution Lab (JPL), including analysis of near-earth asteroids detected by the NEOWISE mission, tactical and strategic design for the Curiosity mission, and a system design test for the Mars 2020 and Mars Sample Return missions. In addition, she was a leading geologist for NASA’s analog mission at the Mars Desert Exploration Station in 2009 and a member of the science operations team for NASA’s analogue Research and Desert Technology Exploration mission in 2011. Watkins is also an aquanaut team. member in the Aquarius underwater environment for NASA’s Extreme Environmental Mission (NEEMO) 23 mission in 2019.

Watkins reported for duty in August 2017 and completed two years of training as an Astronaut candidate. Her Astronaut candidate training included scientific and technical missions, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacecraft, robotics, psychology training, T-38 flight training, water and desert survival training , geology training, and tour skills training. She is currently awaiting a flight assignment.

Through the Artemis program, NASA and a consortium of international partners will return to the Moon to learn how to live in another world for the benefit of all. With Artemis missions NASA will send the first female and the next to the Moon in 2024 and about once a year thereafter.

Through the efforts of humans and robots, we will explore more of the Moon than ever before; to lead a journey of discovery that will benefit our planet with life-changing science, to use the Moon and its resources as a test bed to go even further and to learn how to establish and maintain a human presence far beyond Earth.