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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:  Analysis and Archiving of Near- and Mid-Infrared Observations of Jupiter and Saturn
Disciplines:  Planetary Science, Computer Sciences
Mentor:  Glenn Orton, (JPL),, Phone: (818) 354-2460
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  Images and spectra of Jupiter from visible, near-infrared and mid-infrared instruments are sensitive to cloud properties, temperatures, and abundances of atmospheric constituents. These define the fundamental state of the atmosphere and constrain its dynamics. This research will focus on observations obtained from a instruments on the Juno spacecraft, as well as ground-based telescopes. Besides data analysis, a big priority is archiving our mid-infrared spacecraft-supporting observations. The details of several specific projects are given below.
Description:  (1) Mid-infrared imaging observations:
(1a) A very high priority is to archive thermal-infrared images of Jupiter from various instruments from over nearly two decades with NASAs Planetary Data System (PDS). These data must be accompanied by required ancillary files in a specific PDS format, they are then submitted to the PDS for review. Aspects of this work can be done concurrently, possibly with another student, investigating the long-term variability of Jupiter (see 1d below).
(1b) Careful reductions must be made of continuing observations of Jupiter to support the Juno mission in the mid-infrared using the COMICS instrument on the 8-meter Subaru Telescope, as well as the MIRSI instrument on NASAs 3-meter Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF). Analysis of these images determine the temperature field in the upper troposphere and stratosphere, as well as the distribution of ammonia condensate clouds and ammonia humidity in the atmosphere. It may be possible to participate in active observing runs using the MIRSI instrument, which can be controlled remotely from JPL.
(1c) Existing and recent mid-infrared observations taken just before and during the Juno mission will be analyzed to determine properties of cold polar airmasses. The nonuniform boundaries of these cold airmasses appear to be correlated with the boundaries of high-altitude polar caps observed in the near infrared. A part of this project will be the development of software to combine map projections of different images taken during the course of Jupiters 10-hour rotation (current software exists in the Interactive Data Language [IDL] but it is only partially implemented).
(1d) The long-term variability of longitudinally averaged temperatures and other properties of Jupiters atmosphere can be determined from our mid-infrared images. This project will continue previous work by students to create accurate and self-consistent calibrations of all data from a variety of telescopes. We will then format these data for input to an atmospheric retrieval program. The output of this retrieval will be organized to enable rapid plotting and correlation with previous studies and between different atmospheric properties.

(2) Visible and near-infrared imaging and spectral-scanning observations:
(2a) High-resolution images of Jupiter from the Hubble Space Telescope were combined with spectral imaging cubes made by the Very Large Telescope MUSE instrument to determine the cloud properties of a feature in Jupiter that has the least cloudy and driest regions of the planet. This project will analyze these data to determine properties of these cloud particles, which will then be compared with properties of clouds determined by the Galileo missions direct probe, and spectral properties of the clouds will be developed.
(2b) The NIRI imager at the Gemini North observatory and the SpeX guide camera at NASAs Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) have taken high spatial-resolution images of Jupiter in the near-infrared throughout the Juno mission. The NIRI images have a better spatial resolution than the SpeX images, but they were made less frequently. One goal of this work is to establish a means for determining the absolute radiance or reflectivity of these images in the absence of measurements of standard-stars used as calibrators. These observations will be used to study time-dependent phenomena in Jupiters upper cloud/haze layers. Among these are: changes in the shape of Jupiters polar hood, the Great Red Spot and its turbulent wake, and transient convective storms. A part of this work will also include the reduction of observations that continue to be made to support the Juno mission; these may include opportunities to observe Jupiter in real time by operating the SpeX instrument at the IRTF via remote operations from JPL.
(2c) Including these near-infrared observations and earlier imaging products over the last two decades, we want to characterize properties of waves in layers of high-altitude particles in Jupiter associated with the dark band just north of the equator known as the North Equatorial Belt (NEB) in order to understand their relationship with episodes of the visible northward expansion of the NEB. Previous student work has enabled preliminary conclusions regarding this relationship, but we want to devise appropriate algorithms to quantify these relationships. We also want to examine the relationship of these haze-layer waves with waves in Jupiters temperature field to determine whether an anti-correlation of the amplitudes of these two types of waves observed in one of the NEB expansion events is present in others as a general rule.
(2d) Observations of Jupiter have been made using the IRTF SpeX moderate-resolution spectrometer, scanning it across the planet to make a 3-dimensional hypercube with an x-y spatial dimension and the third axis the spectrum of each point. This task is partially complete with software developed to create accurate geometric calibration of each pixel, providing latitude and longitude values, as well as angles of radiation emission and of incident sunlight. The remainder of the work will incorporate an accurate wavelength calibration, as well as compare radiances derived with those of spacecraft near-infrared spectral observations. The completed software will then be used to create spectral images of Jupiter for several epochs before and during the Juno mission to extend and enhance near-infrared observations from the Juno missions JIRAM experiment.

(3) Observations made by instruments on the Juno spacecraft:
(3a) Search for and examine the properties mesoscale gravity waves in Jupiters atmosphere by the Juno missions visible camera, JunoCam. This work will expand on previous student work, adding observations past Junos fourteenth orbit. Only preliminary statistics exist on properties of the waves that can be made more robust by incorporating adjustments for systematic effects, such as (i) the correlation of sizes of the wave fronts with the instruments ability to resolve them which varies as a function of distance from the clouds during each encounter and (ii) a normalization of the number of waves we see at a given latitude with the number of images that covered the latitude in question. Graphical results will be created in a form suitable for inclusion in a peer-reviewed publication. Some additional work could also be done to begin characterize properties of atmospheric hazes detected in JunoCam images.
(3b) The JunoCam instrument on the Juno mission also made time-lapse measurements of circum-polar cyclones (CPCs). Our goal is to measure the variable internal rotation of these cyclones in order to constrain models for their formation and sustenance. Software needs to be developed to do this using image-correlation velocimetry, possibly based on existing programs that must be Converted to programs that can operate in our Linux computer environment. These results can be checked against hand-measurement of velocities, which are more tedious but more reliable in terms of consistent tracking of features between time steps.

(3c) Radiances from Junos novel MicroWave Radiometer (MWR) experiment are sensitive to atmospheric temperatures and gaseous opacity, mostly from gaseous ammonia, over atmospheric pressures ranging from 0.7 bars to 100 bars and greater using radiances observed between wavelengths of 1.38 cm to 50 cm. During a single close pass of Jupiter by the spacecraft, the MWR makes observations over narrow longitude strip from north to south. The shortest wavelengths show substantial variability not only in latitude but also in longitude: different close approaches observe different longitudes. One goal of the MWR team is to determine the extent to which these observations correlate with visible features detected by JunoCam and infrared features detected by our supporting mid- and near-infrared observations, as described above.
References:  (1a) There are no published archiving reports yet, but student reports from previous years are available on request. (1b) Data reduction and retrieval processes for the mid-infrared are described by Fletcher et al. 2009. Icarus 200, 154. (1c) There are no publications yet on cold polar vortices, but student reports from previous years are available on request. (1d) This effort continues early work by Orton et al. 1991. Science 252, 537 and Orton et al. 1994. Science 265, 625. (2a) Observations of Jupiter in the Space Telescope Outer Planet Atmospheric Legacy (OPAL) program are described by Simon et al. 2015. Astrophys. J. 812, 55. (2b) An example of near-infrared observations supporting the Juno mission are given by Sanchez-Lavega et al. 2017. Geophys. Res. Letters 44, 4679. (2c) A description of one sequence of atmospheric waves associated by a North Equatorial Belt expansion is given by Fletcher et al. 2017. Geophys. Res. Letters 44, 7140. (2d) There are no publications yet on near-infrared spectral scanning, but a student report from the summer of 2018 is available on request. Observations of the SpeX instrument are given by Rayner et al. 2003. Pub. Astron. Soc. Pacific 115, 362. (3a) No publications have been made in the open literature, but the JunoCam instrument is described by Hansen et al. 2017. Space Sci. Rev. 217, 475, and descriptions of early JunoCam results on waves are detailed on:; descriptions of mesoscale waves from Hubble Space Telescope and other visible observations are given by Simon et al. 2018. Astron. J. 156, 79. (3b) Initial work on polar vortices is described by Orton et al. 2017. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4599 and Adriani et al. 2018. Nature 555, 216. (3c) The MWR instrument is described by Janssen et al. 2017. Space Sci. Rev. 213, 139; initial results from the MWR on Junos first orbit are described by Li et al. 2017. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 5317, and a comparison of these results with other measurements is given by Orton et al. 2017. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4607.
Student Requirements:  The data reduction programs are written in the Interactive Data Language (IDL, which is close to Matlab in format). The analysis code is written in FORTRAN. At least rudimentary knowledge of these (or willingness to learn before the beginning of the research) is highly recommended. At least some programming experience is required of serious candidates. With a significant level of contribution, students are welcomed as co-authors on papers emerging from this research.
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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