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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 2019 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:  Mounting and Aligning Optics for An Image Slicer on the Magellan IMACS Spectrograph
Disciplines:  Mechanical Engineering, Optics / Physics / Astronomy
Mentor:  Rosalie McGurk, Instrumentation Fellow, (PMA),, Phone: 6263040203
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  An image of a galaxy does not provide enough information about the galaxy for many scientific projects; astronomers want to measure and understand the dynamics and composition of the gas and stars that make up the galaxy. To measure this, astronomers need spectral, or wavelength vs light intensity, information at every point across the galaxy. Traditional spectrographic instruments place a long slit across the galaxy and get the spectrum of each point along the slit, but it is very time-consuming and inefficient to get spectra covering the entire galaxy by slowly moving the slit across the galaxy.

It is preferable to obtain spectra for all of the positions across the galaxy at the same time. An instrument which can do this is called an integral field spectrograph. It is sometimes possible to convert a traditional long-slit spectrograph into an integral field spectrograph by placing an image slicer in front of the spectrograph. This image slicer chops the image into adjacent slits and rearranges them so that the traditional spectrograph can measure the spectra over the whole field.
Description:  We are creating a new image slicer integral field unit to be placed in front of the Inamori-Magellan Areal Camera and Spectrograph (IMACS), on the Magellan Baade Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. We are designing the optics mounts and support structures now, and we will move to mounting and aligning the optics this summer. The student will be involved in aligning lenses and mirrors in their mounts and in installing them in a larger structure. The student may also oversee the fabrication of the mounts with our metal shop.
References:  Wikipedia Integral Field Spectrograph.

ESO Integral Field Unit

Magellan IMACS webpage
Student Requirements:  Position available to Caltech students only. Research will be conducted at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena as part of the summer student program which runs from June 17 - Aug 23. Students must be present for the full duration of the program.

- Basic optics experience recommended, as we will be doing lots of optical alignment.
- Desired but not required: experience with Solidworks, or a similar mechanical design program.
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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