Graduate student projects are available in the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Astrophysics Science and Solar System Exploration Division through the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology II (CRESST II) (https://cresst2.umd.edu/). Three NASA sponsors are looking for six graduate students in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, physics, and engineering to work on research projects at NASA/GSFC. Interested graduate students should review the available projects below and follow the instructions to apply.
Project #1: Gravity Science from Spacecraft Orbit Determination
The goal of this project is to advance our understanding of the methodology and applications of the analysis of spacecraft tracking data through orbit determination. Existing tools and radio tracking measurements acquired by NASA planetary missions will be analyzed to derive geophysical parameters important to our understanding of planets, moons, and small bodies. New or improved force and measurement models will be developed to test hypotheses from recent publications in the literature. Simulation studies will also be performed to assess possible future instrument and mission concepts. The students will be introduced to recent studies at GSFC, will take charge of a project with guidance, and will grow skills in state-of-the-art analysis and estimation methods applied to planetary science. Successful candidates should have some background and/or skills in physics, linear algebra, and programming languages (Python and/or FORTRAN).
The candidates will work with Dr. Erwan Mazarico in the Planetary Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Laboratory at NASA/GSFC. Funding is available for two students to start work as soon as May 1, 2021 and will last for a period of 1-2 years, dependent on future funding.
Project #2: X-ray Studies of Normal Galaxies
Projects are open for the use of Chandra, NuSTAR, XMM and/or other X-ray missions. The project would involve doing X-ray data analysis to study point source populations (neutron stars and black holes) as well as the hot interstellar medium in both nearby and distant galaxies. The student would use both standard tools for X-ray data analysis as well as write code in e.g., Python and would be expected to write papers and make presentations on their work. The lab has a group of approximately six Ph.D. scientists working on a range of topics concerning X-ray emission from normal galaxies. Successful candidates should be proficient with UNIX/LINUX, computer coding (Python or other languages), writing in Latex, and a willingness to work in a team.
The candidate will work with Dr. Ann Hornschemeier in the X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory at NASA/GSFC. The project is open to one student and the project start date, duration, and possible funding will all be individually discussed between the candidate and Dr. Hornschemeier.
Project #3: Cosmology and Submillimeter Astrophysics
Students with physics, astronomy, engineering, or computer science backgrounds can play a major role for flight projects to develop instrumentation and analyze data from balloon-borne measurements of the cosmic microwave background and the diffuse interstellar medium. Current
and planned projects include the PIPER measurements of the cosmic microwave background, AMEX measurements of anomalous microwave emission, Dust Buster measurements of interstellar dust, and BOBCAT technology development for a future balloon-borne “Great Observatory”. Successful candidates will have useful skills in some subset of instrumentation, data analysis, cryogenics, and mechanical engineering, plus a strong desire for hands-on development of flight hardware. Previous students have had backgrounds in physics, astronomy, or engineering.
The candidates will work with Dr. Alan Kogut in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA/GSFC. The project is open to three students and the project start date, duration, and possible funding will all be individually discussed between the candidate and Dr. Kogut.
Instructions to Apply
Applications will be reviewed, and positions will be filled on a rolling basis. Submitting your application promptly will ensure your application is reviewed while the position is still open. Restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may require that the successful candidate work remotely, at least initially. To apply, submit the following materials via email to the CRESST II Program Associate, Katherine McKee (firstname.lastname@example.org):
• Curriculum Vitae
• 1–2-page Statement of Research Interests
For additional information about CRESST II and the graduate student opportunities, contact Katherine McKee.