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FAR Seminar Archive


Education & Outreach

At a Glance

In the summer of 2009, the Goddard Center for Astrobiology hosted the sixth group of students for the Summer Undergraduate Internship in Astrobiology (SUIA) . As in the past, students were paired with mentors based on their research interests and spent a large majority of their time actually doing research. During the 10 week period, students toured several labs. The summer also included a visit to National Radio Observatory located in Greenbank, West Virginia to use their 40Ft Telescope for an observing run.


The 2009 SUIA Students - Pictured left to right: Nadya Raveda (Connecticut College), Joseph Angelo (Drexel University), William Herlands (Princeton University), Keara Wright (University of Missouri), Renuka Ramanathan (MIT), Karen Whelley (Penn State)

_ The SUIA Students at the Greenbank National Radio Astronomy Observatory planning their observing run.

William Herlands' Presentation

Co-I DiSanti (GSFC/NASA)mentored undergraduate student William Herlands (Princeton University). Mr. Herlands' project during his 10-week SUIA internship at the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center was to build an empirical fluorescence model for methyl alcohol (methanol, CH3OH) using high resolution infrared spectra of comets. CH3OH is known to be present in and to have varying abundances among comets. Laboratory experiments demonstrate a viable means of its production to be low temperature (T < 25 K) H-atom addition reactions to CO condensed on the surfaces of interstellar grains prior to their incorporation into comets. These reactions proceed through formaldehyde (H2CO), which is fundamental to the production of sugars and so is of high significance to Astrobiology.


Karen Whelley (Penn State) investigated novel extraction and gas chromatography derivatization techniques for small hydroxyacids. This method will be applied to isotopic ratio mass spectrometric analysis of carbonaceous meteorites. Her mentor was Dr. Jason Dworkin (GSFC/NASA).


Nadezhda Radeva (Connecticut College) is a third year intern and was mentored by GCA Collaborator Dr. Geronimo Villanueva (GSFC). Nadezhda is majoring in computer sciences, studied the atmosphere of Mars through high-resolution spectroscopy during her summer internship in Astrobiology at NASAs Goddard Center of Astrobiology. She analyzed cross-dispersed echelle infrared spectra of Mars and created a spectral catalog of the 1-5 spectral region, a spectral region where many molecules of possible biological and geothermal origin have strong signatures. During her internship, she learned to analyze infrared spectra using our latest processing techniques, in which the raw spectral-spatial frames are cropped, straightened and registered using ad-hoc developed IDL algorithms. These routines also include correction (with milli-pixel precision) of spatial and spectral distortions introduced by anamorphic optics in the spectrometer, removal of internal scattered-light, correction of variable resolving power, removal of spectral fringing (using Lomb periodogram analysis), correction of residual dark current, and correction of residual telluric radiance.


Renuka Ramanathan's Presentation

Renuka Ramanthan (MIT) worked in the laboratory of Dr. William Brinckerhoff (NASA/GSFC), helping to develop approaches to the analysis of chemical composition using a new configuration of a prototype miniature mass spectrometer. The Tower time-of-flight mass spectrometer (TOF-MS) is under development for potential landed missions to bodies such as Mars, Titan, or asteroids. By pulsing a solid sample in vacuum with a focused laser, ions are formed that can be analyzed for their mass-to-charge (m/z) ratios, helping determine the composition of the sample


Joseph Angelo's Presentation

Joseph Angelo (Drexl University) was mentored by Dr. Steve Charnley (NASA/GSFC).


Keara Wright's Presentation

Keara Wright (University of Missouri) was mentored by Dr. Boncho Bonev (Catholic U/GSFC). + Freedom of Information Act
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