SETI Institute Projects and Programs (Listed Chronologically)

Development of an Elemental Micro-Mapping Instrument Concept

Wednesday, November 05 2014 - 9:29 pm, PST
A proof-of-concept X-ray µ-Mapping Spectrometer was assembled with commercial components. The system is considered to be ~TRL 2.

Support for the CheMin mineralogical instrument during the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL'11) mission: Experiment planning, data analysis and mission operations

Wednesday, November 05 2014 - 9:23 pm, PST
This proposal is to support Dr. Philippe Sarrazin’s activities as Co-I of the CheMin mineralogical instrument that is part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity, during its one Mars year mission on the Mars surface. Dr. Sarrazin was a named Co-I on the original CheMin instrument proposal submitted to the MSL mission announcement of opportunity and his inclusion was validated at that time by Dr. Michael Meyer, Mars Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters. In the interval between CheMin’s selection as an MSL payload element and the launch of the MSL (Phases A-D of the instrument project), Dr. Sarrazin was supported through contracts administered directly from the Mars Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. During Phase E of the instrument project (Mission Operations), Dr. Sarrazin’s activities will be supported through the Coop agreement described herein, administered through Ames Research Center. The duties and obligations of CheMin Co-I’s are delineated in the CheMin Experiment Operations Plan (JPL D-36918) “CheMin EOP” or “EOP” and publications listed therein. Funding for Dr. Sarrazin for the duration of Phase E, which is detailed in the CheMin EOP, has been validated by the Mars Program Office and by Dr. Michael Meyer, Mars Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters.

Hybrid powder / single-crystal X-ray diffraction instrument for planetary mineralogical analysis of unprepared samples

Wednesday, November 05 2014 - 9:18 pm, PST
We are developing a new type of X-ray diffraction (XRD) / X-ray fluorescence (XRF) planetary instrument based on a hybrid concept that allows performing both powder XRD and single crystal XRD. The main benefit of this hybrid concept is the possibility to analyze minerals with limited or no sample preparation.

Uniform Modeling of Kepler Objects of Interest

Wednesday, November 05 2014 - 9:15 pm, PST
The central objective of this proposal is perform uniform state-of-the-art lightcurve modeling with Kepler's list of planetary candidates (Kepler Objects of Interest or KOIs) using tested and validated algorithms. This process includes modeling of planetary transits, phase curves and providing orbital solutions. We will use Kepler-photometry and other groundbased observables to determine key planetary parameters such as the radius and mass. More importantly, we will also determine posterior probability distributions for the fitted parameters by employing state-of-the-art Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms.

Target of Opportunity Observation of an Episodic Storm on Uranus

Tuesday, November 04 2014 - 10:58 am, PST
Target of Opportunity Observation of an Episodic Storm on Uranus

Methane Migration on a Uranus-class planet: symmetric or seasonal?

Tuesday, November 04 2014 - 10:55 am, PST
Methane Migration on a Uranus-class planet

REU SITE: Life in the Universe - Astronomy and Planetary Science at the SETI Institute

Tuesday, November 04 2014 - 9:25 am, PST
The SETI Institute (SI) proposes a renewed REU site with a focus on astronomy and planetaryscience, with a connecting theme of astrobiology. REU students will be partnered with scientists to conduct a broad range of research projects at facilities available onsite and nearby atthe NASA Ames Research Center.

Crater Relaxation and Stereo Imaging of the Icy Satellites of Jupiter and Saturn

Tuesday, November 04 2014 - 9:20 am, PST
Understanding the evolution of Solar System diversity is a top-level question identified by the 2006 NASA Solar System Exploration Roadmap. The satellite systems of Jupiter and Saturn provide opportunities to compare the very different evolutions of satellites which likely had similar starting points. These satellite systems range from currently active (Io and Enceladus) to geologically dead (Callisto and Mimas). Different satellites have evidently experienced radically different thermal histories, but as yet few quantitative constraints on these histories have been published.

Biogenic Gases from Anoxygenic Photosynthesis in Microbial Mats

Tuesday, November 04 2014 - 7:57 am, PST
This lab and field project will measure biogenic gas fluxes in engineered and natural microbial mats composed of anoxygenic phototrophs and anaerobic chemotrophs, such as may have existed on the early Earth prior to the advent of oxygenic photosynthesis. The goal is to characterize the biogeochemical cycling of S, H, and C in an effort to constrain the sources and sinks of gaseous biosignatures that may be relevant to the detection of life in anoxic biospheres on habitable exoplanets.

An Investigation of the Feedbacks between Pluto's Atmosphere and Surface

Tuesday, November 04 2014 - 7:47 am, PST
This proposal would directly investigate the global character of Pluto's atmosphere and its two-way feedbacks with N2 ice on the surface by combining a state-of-the-art three-dimensional atmospheric model with a detailed surface/subsurface thermal model.