Apply to be an Eagle Scout NASA astrobiologist

The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) has a rich history of placing worthy Eagles on expeditions. These unique experiences provide an entry into the world of exploration.​

Opportunity description

Through the BSA’s STEM Initiative, NESA has selected Eagle Scouts to participate in field experiments in Montana in the past. The NASA Astrobiology program has been highly successful and will be offered again this year. This is a spectacular opportunity to experience different biological disciplines!

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe: extraterrestrial life and life on Earth. It investigates the link between life and the universe, which includes the search for extraterrestrial life, but also includes the study of life on Earth, its origin, evolution and limits.

Astrobiology addresses the question of whether life exists beyond Earth, and how humans can detect it if it does. It uses physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography, and geology to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be different from that on Earth.

The origin and early evolution of life is an inseparable
part of the discipline of astrobiology. This interdisciplinary field encompasses research on the origin and evolution of planetary systems, origins of organic compounds in space, rock-water-carbon interactions, abiogenesis on Earth, planetary habitability, research on bio-signatures for life detection, and studies on the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space.

This NASA Astrobiology program will take place in Yellowstone in areas inaccessible to the public in early July with geochemist Dr. Nancy Hinman and a small team who will conduct analyses in the field and also perform experiments in the
laboratory in Mammoth, WY. Photochemical experiments will monitor growth and loss of photo chemically-active components such as hydrogen peroxide.

On early Earth and on present-day Mars, UV radiation bombarded planetary surfaces. Any life would have had to develop strategies for surviving this bombardment. These experiments will collect thermophilic biofilms in hot springs for analysis to address questions about the reactions that took place on planetary surfaces. The group is particularly interested in processes that lead to preservation of microfossils and
biosignatures on Earth that can be extrapolated to processes that may occur on Mars. There will be a lot of hiking, observing, and sampling. The Eagles will fly to Missoula, MT and drive down with the team to the site.


To qualify as a Eagle Scout NASA Astrobiologist, candidates must:

  • Be an Eagle Scout
  • Be 18 years of age and not older than 27 years of age by June 1
  • Major or intend to major in a biological science in college or graduate school
  • Be prepared to blog, speak, write, and be interviewed on behalf of Scouting to report on the trip, what it means personally, and how Scouting prepared you for the experience
  • Have medical insurance, complete a BSA Medical form and purchase medical evacuation coverage (suggested policies will be provided)

How to apply

Eagle Scouts who are qualified and would like to be considered for this wonderful opportunity must complete an online application, which includes a 250-word essay. Finalists will be announced by the end of January and required to submit a 3 minute YouTube video expressing reasons to support their selection.

Applications must be submitted, no later than Midnight Central Standard Time, October 31. The persons selected to be the Eagle Scout Biologist will be notified by February 28.

Important notes

The Eagle will be responsible for $600 (not including medical evacuation coverage and flights for Eagle Scouts who live outside the United States) to defray some costs of the experience payable to the National Eagle Scout Association by May 31.

Logistics and payment for airfare, lodging, food (in some cases the Eagle will need to purchase on-site and be reimbursed), tuition, etc. will be coordinated by the National Eagle Scout Association.

Dates for this approximately 10-day trip will be mid June to July.