Canada: the road so far.

I haven’t bothered writing for a while, so you may or may not know that I moved to Canada. The goal: furthering my education. I’m no longer at Georgia Tech; I’ve joined the Neish Research Group. That being said, I am still working remotely with the Planetary Habitability at Tech group to finish up the work I’ve been doing there.

The point of this post (and posts to come) is to update my research group (and other readers) on the work I’ve begun here in Canada. So, I’ll try to be detailed enough for my group, but I’ll still discuss it as though I’m speaking to a larger audience in case there is anyone interested in reading about my progress.

Since this is my first post since I’ve come to Canada, I’m going to take some time to talk about how it’s been overall and detail the road so far. If you’d like, can jump to the research bit at the end.


The trip up wasn’t bad, but it was depressing because I was leaving everyone I know and love. Plus, it’s a long ride to do alone.  I stopped at my friends house first (only an hour out of Atlanta), then I made my way to mom’s in Tennessee (A 2 or 3 hour drive). We didn’t much because I wasn’t really feeling up for it. We went out to a nice Chinese buffet. It wasn’t very vegan friendly, but they had a hibachi grill and made great sauteed vegetables. After that, we went back and I helped her finally watch the sixth season of game of thrones (spoilers). I left early the next morning mostly because I was ready to get there. It was a day long ride, and leaving at 4am, I got there at 6pm. I settled in. I went to the store, got lost for a couple hours, then made it home.


I met a few of members of my research group the next day while I struggled to get all my affairs in order. It was a lot more difficult than I expected it to be. After a few days, it was finished. That weekend, my a couple of my research members mentioned they were going out. I tagged along. I met a few more people, and we formed a pretty tight group of friends surprisingly quickly. Making friends was probably the biggest fear going in. After switching from engineering to earth science, I remember how long it too for me to really get to know the undergrads, then the grad students. I think it helped that we were all in the same boat. Nobody knew anyone, and that helped motivate all of us.

The next monday, the planetary short course (required of first year planetary students). This is essentially a semester course crammed into one week. That was an experience. It was a nice way to get reminded and/or better familiarized with the various fields in planetary science. That being said, I like the week to week style more. It’s more time consuming, but it offers the option to delve more deeply into topics and better opportunities to test the knowledge of those learning. Of course, this isn’t undergrad, and part of that is on ourselves.

All that leads to the start of the official semester (or do they not call it that here?). It started slow. Aside from the short course, I am taking a graduate Geophysics seminar and a less intensive planetary science seminar. Neither of these had details posted online. That was a very irksome as someone who likes to plan a schedule. Either way, classes start, and they aren’t too intensive. Although, I do have a TA to worry about. Luckily it’s entirely online. That means, my work will be mostly grading reports. Or it was, until I volunteered to help create the grading rubric for the report (on life on mars). So that means I’ve had to start working on that sooner than the other TAs. Other than that there’s research.

Research Progress

This section won’t be nearly as long. I haven’t made a lot of progress. I’ve done a little reading, but most of my reading has been for my classes. I set up my work station (which is important for conducting research). Most of my attention research wise has been focused on fiddling with the NASA software, ISIS. This is great at taking time without producing any real results.


I tried to run through several of the initial tutorials. I can’t say I learned a lot at first.

It took me a while to finally realize, the purpose of the software was to receive and process various file types from planetary missions and convert them to a single file type that is readable in ISIS. When  I first started, I thought each mission you downloaded was the complete mission data set. Instead, I think it’s just a collection of software info that ISIS can use to process whatever data you download on your own from the PDS. Please, let me know if I am mistaken because I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how we access the data after we download a mission kernel.

What I need to do is figure out exactly why my goal is here then I can better focus on what tutorials to do and what I need to take away from them. I am still unclear where I’m going with this.

I haven’t made much progress beyond that. I’ve done some astrobiological research for the Life on Mars essay (and for the mars analogue mission we are doing in the short course). I was hoping to move a bit further, but I came down with a bad cold and had to miss several days this week.

Moving forward, I need to install Envy and IDL, do a bit of reading, learn more about ISIS. Figure out my target to start pulling data that matters.

I haven’t done much reading. I read a paper on Ceres geomorphology for planetary seminar; that isn’t really relevant, but I figured it was worth mentioning. The main take away though is that Ceres surface morphology suggests it isn’t just a rocky body like Vesta, but is instead a ice rock mixture that changes the way the surface changes with time.


Progress on Old Research

I can talk a bit about the work I’ve done for the PHAT group too. Some of this is from before classes started and some is from the last week.

I finished up my Helheim research a couple weeks ago. In the last couple weeks I’ve created iceberg maps of Conamara Chaos on Europa as well as Thrace and Thera Macula. I’ve attached each image. I’ve expanded the chaos regions (red) to map icebergs (black) where icebergs are defined as preexisting terrain that has been partially broken up but still retains some of it’s original structure. Left of matrix material is left red, and all regions in black are also a part of the chaos region. The large regions of black that I identify are areas of depression on the surface where the ice begins to deform, but fails to break apart completely.

Further work will entail mapping the paleo surface features to conduct a statistical analysis of the amount of bands, plains, and ridges to the amount of icebergs that were retained. I had expected to finish this already, but I got sick, and it prevented me from working more. Note, I won’t be using Thrace Macula (second image, body on the right). It’s a different type of chaos region than what I’ve been looking at, and I don’t have a complete image of the surface.



Next time, I’ll have results for my europa research.


That’s all folks.

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