Project Overview

Development of a spaceflight rock dating spectrometer

Faculty Sponsor

Jonathan Levine (


Physics and Astronomy


Professor Jonathan Levine seeks student assistance in the development and testing of a spaceflight rock-dating spectrometer.  The instrument prototype is at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, but the data analysis that guides the instrument development happens at Colgate.  One area of focus in 2022 is modifying the instrument from 7 lasers to 3, so as to fit under the mass limit for a mission to the Moon scheduled for 2025 (we'd like to get on, but haven't yet won a seat!).  Another is collecting mineral samples from around central New York that may be useful analogues for the kinds of minerals that are present on Mars, to see which ones most reliably preserve information about their ages.

Student Qualifications

The successful student will be comfortable programming in Matlab or equivalent and be eager to learn new ideas in physics and/or geology (after all, it's a /rock/-dating spectrometer).  Federal regulations require limit participation in this project to US nationals. 

Number of Student Researchers

up to 2 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2022 and close on 02/04/2022

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (