Student-Faculty Programs Office
Summer 2017 Announcements of Opportunity

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Project:  Landing site selection on Europa
Disciplines:  Planetary Science, Geological/Geophysical Engineering
Mentor:  Morgan Cable, (JPL),, Phone: (818) 354-2126
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  NASA is currently formulating initial concepts for a mission to land on Jupiters moon Europa. Current data for Europa is based solely on the images from the Galileo spacecraft, and is unfortunately limited in resolution. In order to land on Europa, we must maximize the scientific return from available datasets, and also extend their reach by creating synthetic terrain models of potential Europa-like surfaces.

Images of a planetary surface can be used to create a 3d model of surface features by using overlapping images at slightly different viewing geometries to create a stereo view of the surface. The output of this process is a Digital Elevation Model (DEM), which is a 3d shape file that includes the latitude, longitude, and elevation for each point in the covered surface area. Some digital elevation models exist based on Europa data, but this project will involve systematically creating as many DEMs as possible for Europa using existing software techniques in a consistent method.
Description:  This project will involve:
1) Generation of digital elevation models of Europas surface from existing Galileo stereo images, using Ames Stereo Pipeline software
2) Extraction of profiles and measurements from digital terrain models to provide data for synthetic terrain modelling efforts, using programs such as ArcGIS
3) Assistance with generation of probabilistic synthetic terrains in collaboration with landing site selection engineers
References:  1) R. Pappalardo, W. McKinnon, and K. Khurana, editors. Europa. University of Arizona Press, 2009.
2) K. Hand et al., 2017. Report of the Europa Lander Science Definition Team. Posted February 2017.
Student Requirements:  Familiarity with digital image processing and manipulation (Photoshop, etc). Basic familiarity with Python or MatLab, and experience with linux/unix operating system, preferred. General background and coursework in physics, astronomy, geology, and/or planetary science preferred.
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    Caltech students only 

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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