Student-Faculty Programs Office
Summer 2017 Announcements of Opportunity

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Project:  Mapping Saturns hydrocarbons and haze from Cassini
Disciplines:  Planetary Science, Atmospheric Science
Mentor:  Robert West, (JPL), Robert.A.West@jpl.nasa.gov, Phone: (818) 354-0479
Background:  The Cassini spacecraft has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004 and continues to return images and spectra that show seasonal changes in atmospheric hydrocarbons and haze. We would like to understand what these observations are telling us about photochemistry and atmospheric dynamics in Saturns upper troposphere and stratosphere.
Description:  This is a data analysis project. There is a wealth of untapped data waiting to be explored thousands of images and spectra. In the first half of the program the student will assist with locating, organizing and calibrating data using existing software tools, mainly in the form of fully-developed IDL tools. The second half of the program will focus on analysis of these data using radiative transfer codes that calculate reflected intensity from model atmospheres with haze and clouds. We will investigate questions such as What are the abundances of several hydrocarbons whose spectral signatures appear in the data, and how does their distribution change with latitude and time. The same questions will be probed for the stratospheric haze. Finally, if there is enough time, we will begin to investigate causal issues to explain the observed behavior, such as photochemical processes and meridional circulation of Saturns stratosphere and upper troposphere.
References:  https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html
http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/cassini/
http://ciclops.org/?js=1
Chapter 32 of Encyclopedia of the Solar System, 3rd Edition, Elsevier, publisher
https://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Solar-System-Third-Tilman/dp/0124158455#reader_0124158455
Student Requirements:  The student will need to learn the IDL computer language. This can be done at the start of the program but applicants who already have a good working knowledge of IDL will be considered first. Good-practices programming skills are also a plus (read The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, Addison Wesley publishing).
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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