Education and Outreach

NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program: Astromineralogy of Comets and Protoplanetary Disks

By Keith Cowing
January 5, 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.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.