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SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program. Additional AOs for the Amgen Scholars program can be found here.

Specific GROWTH projects being offerred for summer 2018 can be found here.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be
U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Project:  Ground Penetrating Radar Quadcopter
Disciplines:  Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Geological/Geophysical Engineering
Mentor:  Tushar Thrivikraman, (JPL),, Phone: (818) 393-8628
Background:  The goal of this proposal is to demonstrate a proof-of-concept quadcopter ground penetrating radar designed to, but not limited to, permafrost and glacier observations. Subsurface exploration of permafrost and glaciers is essential in the study of water and carbon cycles. Three currently employed subsurface characterization methods are (1) core sampling, (2) conventional surface-contact ground penetrating radar (GPR), and (3) airborne radar. Core samples provide detailed information, but are labor-intensive point measurements over limited areas. Traditional surface-contact GPRs are mature technology, but cannot be used over significant vegetation, muddy/soft soil, or heavily crevassed glaciers. Finally, airborne radars (e.g., AirMOSS, radar ice sounders) provide low-resolution, wide-cover synthetic aperture radar images, but do not produce detailed shallow-subsurface images. Our motivation is to address limitations of traditional subsurface exploration; over the last year, several field scientists have contacted us about solutions for this unmet measurement. The long-term goal is to develop a new small-scale aerial-imaging paradigm.
Description:  Objectives:
1) Build and demonstrate JPLs first wide-band, quadcopter mounted ground penetrating radar using commercially available electronics and a commercial aerial platform.
2) Conduct a local field demonstration of aerial GPR (sites include: Mars Yard, Arroyo Seco, beach (water table detection), or golf course).
3) Develop a roadmap for aerial GPR in future instrument proposal calls and collaborative field campaigns that address the NASA Decadal Survey (e.g., Cryosphere).
Approach: Our approach is to develop a quadcopter GPR using a commercially available quadcopter platform, DJI Spreading Wings S1000 or similar ($5K), with payload capacity of 5 kg. Commercial low-cost radio transceivers, such as the Ettus USRP software defined radio (SDR) ($4K, dual channel, 100MHz-6GHz, arbitrary waveform, GPS/IMU), will be integrated with RF amplifiers with commercial wide-band antennas ($3K). FAA registration and permits will be obtained ($1K). Labor is 0.1 FTE over 5 summer months 2017 for T. Thrivikraman and M. Haynes ($15K, fully burdened) for RF design, system engineering/processing, and to supervise a summer undergraduate student ($8k). The student will build the instrument, program the SDR and process data. Workspace will be the JPL Mechanisms Lab 125-B30/B32 (no-cost). Miscellaneous hardware/3D-printing ($4K).
Student Requirements:  Digital design, Remote Sensing, Radar processing
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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