Kelly Fast, Ph.D.

Kelly Fast, Ph.D.

Kelly Fast grew up with views of both the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory outside her bedroom window. The observatory view won out, and instead of going out on Saturday nights, she would set up her telescope to look at whatever could be seen through the Los Angeles light pollution.

Kelly received her B.S. in Astrophysics from UCLA and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Maryland, College Park. She investigated ozone and atmospheric chemistry on Mars, winds on Titan, and the effects on Jupiter’s stratosphere of small body impacts as an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center before coming to NASA Headquarters in 2011.

Kelly is the Near-Earth Object Observations Program Manager in the Planetary Defense Coordination Office in the Planetary Science Division.  Previously a visiting astronomer at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Maunakea, Hawai’i, she is also now the IRTF Program Scientist and a Discipline Scientist for NASA’s Solar System Observations Program.  She previously served as Program Scientist for the MAVEN mission to Mars and she led NASA’s Planetary Astronomy and Planetary Atmospheres Programs.

Main-belt asteroid 115434 (2003 TU2) was renamed “Kellyfast” in honor of her contributions to planetary science. Known for belting out a song and producing YouTube’s “Hotel Mauna Kea”, she also enjoys Star Trek, Space:1999, crochet, and ham radio, holding Amateur Extra license class callsign N3XUJ.