Student-Faculty Programs Office
Summer 2017 Announcements of Opportunity

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Project:  Unraveling the Moon's Geologic History
Disciplines:  Planetary Science, Astronomy/Astrophysics
Mentor:  Paul Hayne, (JPL),, Phone: (818) 354-0137
Background:  Although the Moon was once molten, its crust solidified early in its history. Impacts have broken apart the coherent bedrock over billions of years, forming the fine-grained lunar regolith. However, effusive volcanism in the lunar maria emplaced basaltic rock on the surface long after the formation of the lunar highlands. Therefore, impacts into the lunar maria more easily reach bedrock and throw out larger boulders than similar impacts in the older and more battered lunar highlands. Mapping rocks on the lunar surface can therefore reveal the depth to underlying bedrock. This is an important piece of information for understanding the Moons geologic history.
Description:  We will use data from JPL's Diviner Lunar Radiometer, an instrument on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Spacecraft (currently orbiting the Moon). These thermal infrared data reveal rocks that have been thrown onto the Moon's surface during hypervelocity meteor impacts. In this project, we will use images taken from orbit (by LRO-LROC) to measure the size-frequency distributions of craters with rocky ejecta identified by Diviner. This will reveal patterns of regolith thickness, which we will correlate with geologic features, such as the basaltic lava flows that give the Moon its distinct appearance as viewed from Earth.
References:  Ghent, R. R., Hayne, P. O., Bandfield, J. L., Campbell, B. A., Allen, C. C., Carter, L. M., & Paige, D. A. (2014). Constraints on the recent rate of lunar ejecta breakdown and implications for crater ages. Geology, 42(12), 1059-1062.
Student Requirements:  Calculus-based physics - required
Differential equations - required
Computer programming skills (esp. Matlab or C/C++) - strongly recommended
Introductory geology - recommended
Introductory astronomy/planetary science - recommended
Location / Safety:  Project building and/or room locations: . Student will need special safety training: No.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    both Caltech and non-Caltech students 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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Problems with or questions about submitting an AO?  Call Jen Manglos of the Student-Faculty Programs Office at (626) 395-2885.
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