Project Overview

Exploration Science: Mapping Antarctica & Mars and Simulating Titan Geological Processes

Faculty Sponsor

Joe Levy (




Research positions are available for students interested in exploring some of the coldest places in the solar system: Mars, Antarctica, and Titan. Student scientists are invited to work on four inter-related projects that will involve making observations of planetary data and simulating planetary surface processes in the lab. Successful students will be invited to present their results at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston in March of 2019. 

The projects inlclude:

Boulder Halo Hunting. How do mysterious rings of rocks scattered across martian polar regions form? Are they remnants of imapct craters or something else? Mapping the size and distribution of these mysterious landforms will illuminate the how permafrost processes operate on Mars. Analog analyses of Antarctic rock rings will be conducted to support this research. 

Glacier Boulders. Mars is covered with glaciers---you'd just never know it becuase they are mantled by rocks and debris. These glaciers are thought to be ancient--hundreds of millions of years old. If that's the case, a student worker who maps the size distribution of boulders on these deposits should be able to determine erosion rates on Mars over very long timescales, permitting us to find out what ancient martian climate is like. Debris-covered glaciers on Mars will be examined to support this project. 

Recurring Slope Lineae. Shallow briny groundwater is currently flowin on Mars, but where is it coming from? Student researchers are needed to map the distribution of these strange brine flows and determine what headwater conditions are like in martian watersheds that are active today!

The Titan Tumbler. How does erosion work at 94 Kelvin, when you "rock" is made out of water ice, and your "water" is made out of liquid hydrocarbons? We'll be tumling water ice clasts in a cryogenic mill to find out! Students will design and implement rock rounding and commonution experiments. 

Student Qualifications

Students with experience using GIS (ArcMap, Google Earth, etc.) are preferred, as are students with at least 1 year of Geology course work. However all enthusiastic and dedicated students interested in exploring the solar system are encouraged to apply. 

Number of Student Researchers

5 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/05/2018 and close on 02/05/2018

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (