Project Overview

Preparation of the DIMPLE experiment for the Moon

Faculty Sponsor

Jonathan Levine (


Physics and Astronomy


Professor Levine is the deputy principal investigator for an international experiment called DIMPLE (Dating an Irregular Mare Patch with a Lunar Explorer), which NASA has selected for flight to the Moon in 2027.  This year, we are racing to update our laboratory prototype to be more similar to the spaceflight design, build and assemble the spaceflight hardware, and write the software we will use to analyze data downlinked from the Moon.  We seek students to help particularly to help build our data analysis pipeline, so that the science team will be able to use data from DIMPLE in real time during mission operations on the Moon, and to analyze data from the laboratory prototype: as we upgrade our hardware to flight models, we have to re-learn all the ways things can go wrong, so that we know all the things we need to do to make them go right.  The ultimate goal of the experiment, which will be realized after DIMPLE gets to the Moon, is to learn whether a specific volcanic formation, called Ina, is very old (3700 million years or so) or much younger (only 35 million years).  Both of these ages have been proposed in the literature; if Ina is very young, then most of what we think we know about the thermal history of the Moon must be wrong, because we don't understand how such a small body could have held onto enough heat inside for long enough to power recent volcanoes.  On the other hand, if Ina is very old, then much of what we think we know about Solar System chronology could be wrong, because we estimate the ages of planetary surfaces from their density of craters, which is very low for Ina...maybe this is a mistake, and we've been fooling ourselves about the histories of the Moon, Mercury, and Mars.  DIMPLE data will let us decide.   

Student Qualifications

Experience coding in Python is very useful, because Professor Levine doesn't have any, but sincerely wishes he did. 
Successful applicants will be willing to dive into details of things like statistics of data, while also keeping big picture questions in mind (e.g., how can we make this work?).
Ideally, applicants will be avialable for 8 weeks at the beginning of summer. 

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 10/03/2023 and close on 02/28/2024

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (