Extrasolar Planets: January 2009

Comets are the deep freezers of dust and ices extant in the early solar nebula at the time of the formation of the giant planets. Astromineralogy is the study of the chemical and structural properties of the dust grains. Studying the dust mineralogy in comets and protoplanetary disks, and, in particular, the amorphous and crystalline silicates, probes the relative abundances of interstellar grains and grains thermally altered or condensed in the inner hot regions of disks, respectively. Research combines analysis and modeling of Spitzer and ground-based spectroscopy of comets as well as radiative transfer modeling of protoplanetary disks to further our understanding of the thermal processing and radial transport of dust in protoplanetary disks at the early epochs of planetesimal formation. Deadline: 5:00 PM EST February 1, 2009.

We are engaged in developing the near-infrared camera (NIRCam) and mid-infrared instrument (MIRI) of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and are planning on using these instruments to observe transiting exoplanets. This work is being done in conjunction with exoplanet theorists and other JWST team members and should predict what scientific results will be possible with JWST. We are also investigating direct imaging coronagraphic exoplanet missions and are developing a state-of-the-art Phase Induced Amplitude Apodization coronagraph testbed in our Ames Coronagraph Experiment Laboratory. Deadline: February 1st, 2009

Source: [NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program (GSRP)]