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Lillian Rose Ostrach, PhD

Lillian R. Ostrach is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center. Lillian earned a dual bachelor's degree in Geological and Biological Sciences from Brown University in 2007, a master's degree in Geological Sciences from Brown University in 2008, and a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Arizona State University in 2013. 

Prior to joining the USGS in 2016, she was a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Lillian is an active member of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera science team. Her research is focused on comparative planetology of airless bodies, with particular emphasis on the impact cratering process/products and volcanism on the Moon and Mercury. She uses a variety of integrated remote sensing datasets to conduct research, employing methods of impact crater measurements, stratigraphy, and geomorphology to infer the formation and evolutionary history of different terrains on the Moon and Mercury. In addition to her scientific research, Lillian greatly enjoys public outreach and education, frequently participating in both formal and informal events to increase understanding, appreciation, and excitement of planetary science to the general public.


  • Ph.D. 2013, Arizona State University; Geological Sciences
    • Dissertation: Impact-Related Processes on Mercury and the Moon (Advisor: M.S. Robinson)
  • Sc.M. 2008, Brown University; Geological Sciences
    • Thesis: In Depth Analysis of Lobate Debris Aprons in the Northern Mid-Latitudes of Mars in an Attempt to Understand Their Formation, Evolution, and Developmental Processes (Advisor: J.W. Head)
  • Sc.B. 2007, Brown University; Geological-Biological Sciences
    • Honors Thesis: Formation and Evolution of Lobate Debris Aprons during the Late Amazonian on Mars: Evidence for Recent Global Climate Change (Advisor: J.W. Head)

General Research Interests

*Impact cratering processes and products on airless bodies including crater morphology, impact melt morphology, distribution, and assessment of melt-generation models, regolith generation and evolution, and relative and absolute dating using crater size-frequency distributions.

*Planetary volcanism, including timing of emplacement, mode of emplacement, and compositional variation for smooth plains regions on solid surface bodies.

*Comparative planetology of airless bodies using remote sensing data: Recent data sets, including those from active space flight missions, provide the opportunity to complete comparative geomorphological studies of the four main planetary processes (i.e., impact cratering, volcanism, tectonics, and gradation) at high-resolution and with orbital coverage that was previously unavailable.

*Methods-based applications to planetary remote sensing data: Integration of multiple remote sensing data sets for planetary geomorphological studies, development of new tools, methods, and techniques for the production of cartographic products and creation of high-precision, high-accuracy geologic maps, controlled mosaics, digital terrain models, and other products for the scientific community, improving methods and geospatial information system (GIS) techniques for processing and analyzing remotely sensed data and planetary-specific scientific analyses, including developing novel s