Illustration of NASA's Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) on the surface of the Moon

Ryan Vaughan

VIPER Lead mission systems engineer

Education: University of Southern California, master’s degree in astronautical engineering
Hometown: San Francisco Bay Area, California
What inspired you to join NASA? Exploration of an unknown frontier after reading and watching too much science fiction.
Favorite beverage, food, or fuel: Chocolate!

Ryan Vaughan is a systems engineer at NASA's Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Before VIPER, Ryan worked on the Ultraviolet and Visible Light Spectrometer for NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, a robotic mission that in 2013 orbited the Moon and gathered detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere. At Ames, Ryan has also served as division chief for the Mission Design division, which conducts early-stage concept development and technology maturation supporting the center's space and aircraft mission proposals. In addition to his work at NASA, he is also a pilot and is currently homebuilding his own two-seat aircraft in his garage. He can be spotted backpacking in the Sierra Nevada from time to time.