Project Overview

Polar and planetary geology: exploring water-ice-soil interactions using remote sensing data

Faculty Sponsor

Joe Levy (




How do ice, sediment, salt, and climate shape the surfaces of rocky planets like Earth and Mars? The goal of the intertwined projects described below is to gain insights into how glaciers, permafrost, rivers, impact craters, and groundwater drive surface processes across the solar system.
Project tasks will involve a mix of laboratory analyses (if possible), computer mapping (in all cases), and local fieldwork involving drone-borne imaging systems (again, if possible).
Student researchers will work collaboratively on three main projects: 

1) Mapping the size and extent of boulders on the surface of Mars using HiRISE image data in order to probe for differences in bedrock composition between hemispheres. Students will gain experience with ArcGIS and other data analysis tools.
2) Measuring the soil properties of Antarctic sediments associated with permafrost thaw and groundwater flow. Students will grain lab experience with soil characterization, geochemical tools, and ecological tools.
3) Conducting lab and local field validation experiments of planetary simulation facilities in a -20° freezer.

Student Qualifications

Students must have expereicne with at least 1 geology department course. Experience with ArcGIS is preferred, but not required. 

Number of Student Researchers

4 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2021 and close on 03/22/2021

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (