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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 2017 can be found here.

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

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.

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Project:  Developing a GUI program for calculating stresses on solar system bodies
Disciplines:  Computer Science, Planetary Science
Mentor:  Robert Pappalardo, (JPL), Robert.Pappalardo@jpl.nasa.gov, Phone: (818) 354-5837
Background:  Icy satellites of the outer solar system display a wide range of geologic deformation on their surfaces. Some surfaces are old and heavily cratered showing little evidence for recent tectonism while others are observed to be young with some moons showing activity present-day. The young deformation can take the form of small cracks in the surface, large double ridges that can extend for thousands of km, and mountain ranges that can reach heights of thousands of m.
Many of the potential sources of stress that can deform the surface are likely tied to the tidal deformation of the moon as it orbits its parent planet. Other sources of global-scale stress include a volume change induced by the melting or freezing of a subsurface liquid layer, a change in the orbit of the moon, or a rotation of the outer part of the satellite relative to the rest of the body. We turn to computer modeling to correlate observed geologic features to the possible stresses that created them. A variety of modeling programs exist that often assume a thin ice shell and/or a multi-layered viscoelastic body. One of this programs, SatStress, was developed by Wahr et al. (2009) to compute tidal and nonsynchronous rotation stresses. Patthoff et al (2016) have been working to further the development of a more user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) version of SatStress with added stressing mechanisms. However, the GUI contains bugs in its existing format and the planetary science community would like to see additional stresses added to the program.
Description:  This project will continue the development of the GUI. The proposed work would involve fixing known errors with the program, adding new features including input/output interactions and additional stressing mechanisms, improve the design of the GUI, and beta testing the new features. Additional work will involve students using the program to simulate features on the surface of Jupiters moon Europa, and comparing them to structures observed on the surface of the satellite.
References:  1) Wahr, J., et al., 2009. Modeling stresses on satellites due to nonsynchronous rotation and orbital eccentricity using gravitational potential theory, Icarus, 200, p. 186-206.
2) Patthoff, D.A., et al. 2016. Viscoelastic modeling of tidal stresses on satellites with an enhanced SatStressGUI, 47th LPSC, abs. 1375.
3) Collins, G. C. et al, 2010. Tectonics of the Outer Planet Satellites, in Planetary Tectonics. P. 264-350
Student Requirements:  Proficient with Python and GUI programming, and calculus 1 and 2.
OR
Geophysics/astrophysics/geology, and calculus 1 and 2
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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