an Explore Mars Event

May 16-18, 2023

The National Academy of Sciences Building

Washington D.C.


Eric Ianson

NASA | Deputy Director, Planetary Science Division; Director, Mars Exploration Program

As of January 1, 2023, Mr. Eric Ianson is serving as the Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters. In this role, he supports the SMD Associate Administrator in providing executive leadership, overall planning, direction, and management of NASA’s $7B science portfolio focused on the scientific exploration of Earth, the Sun, solar system, universe, and biological and physical sciences.

Prior to this appointment, Eric was the Deputy Director of the Planetary Science Division in SMD. Serving in this role since September 2019, he supported the exploration of the solar system, including missions to and research of the planets, moons, and small bodies (asteroids, comets, Kuiper belt objects, etc). He also served as the Program Director for the Mars Exploration Program and the Radioisotope Power Systems Program.

From 2015 to 2019, Eric was the Associate Director of Flight Programs in the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.  In this role, he oversaw all NASA Earth Science satellite and airborne programs and projects, as well as the data systems that house and distribute the data from these programs and projects. From 2013 to 2015, he served as the Deputy Associate Director for the Earth Science Projects Division at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). This position also included responsibility as Deputy Program Manager for both the Earth Systematic Missions Program and Reimbursable Projects Program. He has previously served as a Program Executive at NASA Headquarters, beginning in 2004, for several Earth Science missions, including OCO, OCO-2, Aquarius, and SMAP.  He also served as Acting Program Manager for the Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program from 2004 to 2008 and led efforts to transition this role to Langley Research Center. Eric also served on a detail to GSFC, as Mission Manager for the IRIS project, a Heliophysics mission that was successfully launched in June 2013.

Eric has experience working with various NASA Centers and has participated in international and interagency partnerships.

Prior to joining NASA, Eric worked for the Department of Defense for 14 years, involved in program and project oversight for the US Navy on missiles, combat systems and associated equipment.

Eric received a B.S degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester and an M.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California. He is also a graduate of the “Leadership for a Democratic Society” program at the Federal Executive Institute.