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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:  Atmosphere models of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system
Disciplines:  Astronomy/Astrophysics, Planetary Science
Mentor:  Renyu Hu, (JPL),, Phone: (818) 354-6090
Background:  The discovery of a 7-planet system named TRAPPIST-1 reoriented our search for habitable planets. Orbiting a cool brown dwarf star, the seven planets have radii close to the Earths radius and masses close to the Earths mass. Also, at least three planets in the system receive appropriate amounts of stellar radiation energy to potentially sustain liquid water oceans on their surface (Gillon et al. 2017). Because the host star is an ultracool dwarf star, the ratio between the planets radius and the stars radius is favorable for follow-up observations of the planets atmospheres. As such, the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system presents opportunities to characterize potentially habitable exoplanets in the not-so-distant future.
Description:  The student will use an advanced atmospheric chemistry and radiative transfer code (called EPACRIS; Hu et al. 2012) to simulate the atmospheres of the TRAPPIST-1 planets. The student will construct model atmospheres of various surface pressures, ranging from 0.1 to 10 bars, and model the atmospheric compositions ranging from reduced (H2-dominated), neutral (N2-dominated), to oxidized (CO2-dominated). Particularly important for the TRAPPIST-1 planets is the ultraviolet irradiation from their host star. The student will use a recent Hubble Space Telescope observation to derive the appropriate ultraviolet spectrum to be used in the atmospheric simulations. The results obtained in the project will map out the potential atmospheric compositions on the TRAPPIST-1 planets.
References:  Michael Gillon, et al. (2017), Seven temperate terrestrial planets around the nearby ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, Nature, 542, 456.
Renyu Hu, Sara Seager, and William Bains (2012), Photochemistry in Terrestrial Exoplanet Atmospheres I: Photochemistry Model and Benchmark Cases, ApJ, 761, 166.
Student Requirements:  The student should have completed colleague-level courses in physics and mathematics. Experience in the C programming language is desired. Knowledge of astronomy or planetary science is not required.
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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