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Announcements of Opportunity

SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program.

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. Click here for more tips on finding a mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

New for 2021: Students applying for JPL projects should complete a SURF@JPL application instead of a "regular" SURF application.

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

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Project:  Investigating the Chemical Profile of the Brilliant Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3)
Discipline:  Planetary Science
Mentor:  Geoffrey Blake, Professor of Cosmochemistry and Planetary Sciences, (GPS), gab@gps.caltech.edu, Phone: 626-524-4671 (cell); 626-395-6296 (CIT)
Mentor URL:  https://www.gps.caltech.edu/~gab/  (opens in new window)
Background:  The apparition of Comet C/2020 NEWOWISE (F3) in 2020 marked the appearance of one of the brightest comets ever observed. Visible with the naked eye under clear skies, this comet was widely covered by news outlets and the astronomy community. As a long period comet, NEOWISE likely originated from a distance reservoir of comets in our solar system called the Oort Cloud. Comets from the Oort Cloud are considered some of the most pristine materials our Solar System has to offer. Investigating the molecular composition is one method by which we can investigate the "pristineness" (or not) of comets in order to understand their physical and chemical evolution. In the summer of 2020, we observed NEOWISE with the Keck Observatory to observe what organic molecules are present in the comet, what amounts they are present in, and how these molecules are distributed around the comet.
Description:  For this project, we invite a student to help analyze our Keck/NIRSPEC observations of NEOWISE in order to craft a molecular profile for NEWOWISE. The student would learn the basics of processing high-resolution infrared spectral data and how telescope observations of comets are made in the infrared. The student will investigate other cosmogonic parameters (e.g., temerature distributions around the nucleus) as needed.

NOTE: If Caltech has students on campus, this work could be done in Pasadena. But, since it is primarily concerned with data analysis, the SURF project can be done remotely.
References:  Example of this type of work: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-3881/ab289c/pdf
Student Requirements:  Familiarity with a Unix computing environment. Some kind of programming experience is preferred (data analysis will use IDL codes). Some astronomy coursework preferred.
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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