REU 2018 Mentors

Pascal Lee

Title: Study of Noctis Landing as a proposed first landing site / exploration zone for humans on Mars

Description: Pascal Lee studies the history of water on Mars and in addition works on planning the longer term human exploration of Mars. Dr. Lee has led over 30 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica to check Mars by comparison with the Earth. He also studies asteroids and the 2 moons of Mars. His first book, Mission: Mars, won the 2015 Prize for Excellence in Childrens Science Books from the yank Association for the Advancement of Science.

Noctis Landing is a Proposed First Landing Site/Exploration Zone for Humans on Mars currently into consideration by NASA. The scholar will work with Dr. Pascal Lee on the SETI Institute and the Noctis Landing Team to assist characterize the positioning using existing Mars spacecraft data and Google Mars mapping and visualization tools.

Viginia Gulick

Title 1: Fluvial and hydrothermal studies using high-resolution images, Digital Elevation Maps, and spectral data

Description: Fluvial and hydrothermal studies using high-resolution images, Digital Elevation Maps, and spectral data. These studies are focused totally on the formation of gullies and other fluvial landforms on Mars. However, terrestrial analog sites, hydrologic, or landform models could be used to light up the significance of varied processes and their implications for understanding paleoclimatic change. Opportunities also are available for HiRISE science operations support, including help with science planning and targeting, and analysis of acquired data. Geology background especially in geomorphology and hydrology is desired. Experience working with ENVI, ArcGIS, Matlab, and Python is helpful.

Title 2: Developing science analysis algorithms for future planetary missions

Description: Developing science analysis algorithms for future planetary missions. We use innovative laboratory techniques to check over 1200 rock and mineral samples. We use Ramen spectrometers to develop automated mineral, rock and image identification algorithms that may be used on future Mars rover missions. Student would acquire images and Raman spectra of our samples, and analyze samples in hand sample, thin section and other techniques. A well-qualified student may also work to enhance our automated mineral identification algorithms. Students with experience in computer programming (C++), MATLAB, signal processsing, or rock sample analysis (in hand sample and skinny sections) preferred.

Title 3: Developing collaborative science and crowdsourcing websites

Description: Developing collaborative science and crowdsourcing websites. One project aims to head beyond our original crowdsourcing websites Mars Clickworkers (developed in 2000) and HiRISE Clickworkers site (2007-2010) to a brand new level of collaborative science. Another project seeks to develop collaborative interactive tools to research spectra and photographs throughout the web browsing environment. Students with significant experience in website design and web tools development in JAVA or PHP as an example. Some geology background could also be helpful.

Janice Bishop

Title: Composition of ancient clay-rich outcrops at Mawrth Vallis, Mars

Description: Dr. Janice Bishops research involves characterizing the outside of Mars using hyperspectral visible/near-infrared (VNIR) images of Mars collected by the CRISM spectrometer on MRO. We’re all for studying the early Martian environment through detection of phyllosilicates, sulfates, and other aqueous minerals at the surface of Mars.

Dr. Bishop is looking for a summer intern to check the Mawrth Vallis region of Mars. We can be working together to research this region using CRISM images and document the mineralogy found in. particular, we will be able to be characterizing sites where phyllosilicates and sulfates are associated within the light-toned outcrops. The coed will learn to collect spectra from CRISM images and compare these with lab spectra of minerals. We can also measure spectra within the lab of Mars analog rocks and relate these to the Mawrth Vallis spectra. The scholar will master how you can measure spectra of geologic samples, how one can use several image processing techniques, and the way to spot different materials in response to spectral features (e.g. clays, sulfates, basalt).

David Summers

Title 1: Microbial detection at low levels by iodine-125 radiolabeling

Description: This work would develop a brand new method for the detection of microorganisms for planetary protection purposes. It will accomplish this by the detection of an organisms protein through labeling them with a radioactive label, iodine-125. This can provide greater sensitivity and universality while preserving an even turn-around time for analysis. By using a universal biosignature (cell proteins), this technique provides broad generality in regards to the variability of organisms that may be detected and isnt restricted to any sorts of)( organism, the power of the organisms to be cultured, etc. This work would develop a snappy and straightforward method for detecting the proteins from cells. This laboratory-based project would involve: 1) Separation of cells/spores, 2) Lysis of cells, 3) Labeling of released proteins & separation from unreacted label and four) Detection by standard or multiphoton detection.

Title 2: Biosignature detection

Description: We’re currently studying the detection of biomarkers, organic compounds that represent biosignatures of life, in mineral samples. We study where they are often found, how they are often found, and why they’re there. That is for you to better seek for biosignatures once we search for life on Mars. This project, in collaboration with other members of the SETI Institutes team within the NASA Astrobiology Institute, will use IR microscope learn how to detect and characterize organic samples which were obtained from the Atacama desert.

Ann Marie Cody

Description: Ann Marie Cody is an astronomer at NASA Ames, engaged on the study of young stars and planets with Kepler’s K2 Mission. Over the last few years, the Kepler telescope has observed tens of thousands of stars and send its imaging back to earth, where astronomers produce light curves to check variability and identify exoplanets. As a part of that data, Kepler has observed some regions in its “superstamp” mode, whereby it acquires images of a complete cluster plus many unassociated foreground/background stars. These superstamp images contain a wealth of variability data, and yet up to now few researchers have touched them.

The REU intern will work to create and analyze light curves from K2 superstamp data, with several science goals. The primary goal is to go looking for signs of planets that experience not yet been detected. The scholar will examine the sunshine curves for transits and investigate the properties of any potential planets found. The second one goal is to appear for young spotted stars and measure their rotation rates. This may increasingly be especially important for the M35 cluster, which includes many stars with periodic light curves. It’s similar in age to the famous Pleiades, which was also studied with K2. The intern will compare the measured rotation rates as a function of stellar mass with the effects already reported for the Pleiades. He/she might also assess the frequency of multiperiodic light curves, which might be indicative of either binary systems or rapid spot evolution. Some Python programming experience is recommended.

Peter Jenniskens

Description: Peter Jenniskens uses meteors as a device in astronomy. He’s conducting a surveillance of the night skyto map our meteor showers to be able to understand what comets and primitive asteroids are responsible. As a part of this program, the meteors are probed with spectrographic tools to measure their content of sodium and other elements.

The internship project is to develop a python script to automate the extraction of these spectra within the video records for which meteor trajectories were obtained, then run the spectral analysis tools to figure out the basic content of the meteoroids. That data can be used to figure out how the problem in meteoroid streams differs from one source comet to the following. The analysis tools might need to be adapted so that they work along side the script. Python and C++ programming skills are required, in addition to a willingness to tackle large data in observational astronomy and a keen interest in meteors and planetary science.

Lori Fenton

Title: The origin of gypsum dune sand within the north polar sand seas on Mars

Description: Olympia Undae is Mars largest dune field, located adjacent to the north polar ice cap. The dark sand is basically composed of mafic minerals, but within the eastern portion there’s a significant factor fabricated from the hydrated sulfate gypsum. What makes this interesting for Mars is that almost any other known exposure of gypsum is very, very old. In reality the Theiikian era on Mars, by which most sulfate-bearing rocks formed ( ~3.5-4 Ga), was named for the Greek word for sulphur. However, the sand in these dunes is actively eroding from the north polar cap, which itself is geologically young. It’s still unclear whether the gypsum in Olympia Undae formed within the recent geological past, or whether it was originally derived from much older rocks. A more detailed take a look at the wind patterns shaping the dunes, and the distribution of gypsum at the dunes, is warranted, building on previous work. This project will entail a review of the present literature, analysis of bedform alignment using HiRISE images, and near-infrared spectral analysis of the gypsum signature in CRISM image cubes.

Jill Tarter

Title: An updatable archive of SETI searches

Description:The community needs an even archive of SETI-related observations which have been conducted over the last 5+ decades. We maintained an archive in a proprietary, home grown format until 2015. With a prior REU student, I TRIED to update and modernize the archive so as to create a document that SETI observers could easily update themselves, supplying the main points about their particular search program. Though we made an even start, we didn’t complete the project and Id greatly care to do that in the summer of 2018. The goals of this project can be 1) make the present version of the archive visible at the SETI Institute web site, 2) do a literature search to update the archive with searches published within the previous few years, and three) create a template/tool that allows you to allow researchers to go into the main points in their own searches.

The REU student engaged on this project might want to be capable of manipulate large excel spreadsheets, and feature a mastery of a few high-level programming language reminiscent of Python. Because I’M formally retired, and don’t spend many days per week on the SETI Institute. I’LL BE available electronically; Dr. Gerald Harp can assist with daily on-site supervision and institute staff will advise on integration into the SETI Institutes web site.

Cristina Dalle Ore

Title: Text

–>Description: The project involves the study of ice phase in and around craters at the satellites of Saturn. This will likely be done by mapping in accordance with the form of the 2-micron H2O ice band within the observed spectrum of the outside. The purpose is to make use of ice phase as a measure of age, which might then be in comparison to crater counts.

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Franck Marchis

Title: Text

–>Description: Franck Marchis studies the solar system using mainly ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics (AO). Over the last 5 years, he was also considering the definition of a brand new generation of AOs for 8-to-10-meter class telescopes and future Extremely Large Telescopes. He has developed algorithms to process and enhance the standard of images, both astronomical and biological, using fluorescence microscopy. He’s currently inquisitive about the advance of the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an extreme AO system for the Gemini South telescope that’s in a position to imaging and recording spectra of exoplanets orbiting around nearby stars. The detection and study of Exoplanets, or planets around other stars, is likely one of the hottest area of study in modern astronomy.

Matthew Tiscareno

Title: Cassini imaging of Saturns rings

Description: The Cassini spacecraft concluded its 13-year mission at Saturn with a 10-month Grand Finale, by which it obtained (among other things) unprecedentedly close-range images of Saturns rings from December 2016 to September 2017. The scholar and mentor will interact to search out features of interest in these images and can address them by processing Cassini images to characterize features throughout the images and to figure out the geometry and position of such features. As time allows, follow-up work will involve describing and understanding the features identified within the first a part of the work.

Qualifications: Because Saturns rings are a dynamical system, physics or astronomy majors could be best suited, especially in the event that they have taken classical mechanics at higher than freshman-level. Since this project involves using computational tools to process images, we seek people who are ok with computers and computer programming.


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[Source: SETI.org – News]

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