SETI Institute Projects and Programs (Listed Chronologically)

Characterizing the Current Aeolian Transport Environment for Sediment in Greater Meridiani Planum

Tuesday, November 04 2014 - 7:36 am, PST
The overall goals of the proposed Mars research are to identify locations, areas, seasons, and times-of-day within a 10x10 degree study area (greater Meridiani Planum) where/when sand-sized particle transport by the wind (aeolian saltation) has occurred (may have occurred, is probable) within the contemporary era, and to initially characterize the atmospheric and/or geologic forcing mechanism(s) that create such aeolian-effective conditions near the surface. In order to achieve these goals, the proposed work will utilize both the analysis of high-resolution orbital imagery (e.g., HiRISE, CTX, MOC-NA; including any available repeat imaging of relevant locations) and high-resolution atmospheric modeling output (mesoscale and microscale; seasonally- and diurnally-resolved 3-D winds and atmospheric state information). The proposed effort would significantly advance the detailed understanding of the dominant non-catastrophic contemporary surface erosion process on Mars.

DREAM II: Dynamic Response of Environments at Asteroids, the Moon, and Moons of Mars

Tuesday, November 04 2014 - 7:22 am, PST
Dynamic Response of Environments at Asteroids, the Moon, and Moons of Mars

Comminution of Aeolian Materials on Mars

Tuesday, November 04 2014 - 7:14 am, PST
The project will attempt to demonstrate experimentally that aeolian action on Mars leads to the production of vast quantities of silt that have an anomalous mixture of extremely well-rounded grains and extremely angular material.

Planetary Science and Exploration Studies

Monday, November 03 2014 - 11:52 pm, PST
A 4-year multidisciplinary research program supporting NASA’s Strategic Plan and Science Plan goals and objectives is proposed. The guiding theme for the proposed Science investigations is Water in the Solar System; that for the proposed Exploration work is Steps to Humans on Mars.

OMEGA for Sustainable Aviation Biofuels

Monday, November 03 2014 - 11:47 pm, PST
We propose to investigate the most promising current biofuel feedstocks: microalgae. Microalgae are traditional grown in shallow circulating channels called “raceways” or in transparent enclosures known as photo-bioreactors (PBRs). To produce biofuels, thousands of acres of raceways and tens of thousands of PBRs will be required. To avoid competing with agriculture for land, raceways and PBRs can be located offshore and to avoid using water and fertilizer, they can use domestic wastewater from cities. This offshore wastewater system under development at NASA is called OMEGA (Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae).

Rapid Response to Announced Small Asteroid Impacts

Monday, November 03 2014 - 11:06 pm, PST
This project is to establish a program to prepare for and execute a rapid and effective response to a predicted Earth impactor, the next asteroid 2008 TC3. The objective is to fully characterize the asteroid before entry, to measure its internal strength and internal composition during entry, and to recover meteorites for extensive ground-based analysis. The ultimate goal is to forge links between meteorite mineralogy, meteoroid internal strength, and their parent asteroid spectral types, important data needed for the implementation of mitigation actions against a detected impact threat and characterize small Near Earth Objects of the type that are targets for recovery and manned missions.

A spectroscopic survey of meteoroid elemental compositions

Monday, November 03 2014 - 11:03 pm, PST
This project is to develop and deploy the first automated survey of meteoroid elemental compositions (Mg, Na, Fe, Ca, ...), by simultaneously measuring meteoroid orbits and meteor spectra in large numbers on both the northern and southern hemisphere. The survey will shed light on the diversity of meteor shower parent bodies. This data will be used to test recent planet formation models and improve the first dynamical model of the formation and evolution of the zodiacal cloud.

Laboratory measurements of the optical constants of complex organic matter

Monday, November 03 2014 - 10:51 pm, PST
Understanding the chemical nature of haze particles in the atmospheres of Titan and Saturn and materials on the surface of the Saturn system bodies is one of the goals of the Cassini-Huygens mission. Complex organic materials may exist as haze layers in the atmospheres of Titan and Saturn and as dark coloring agents on icy satellite surfaces. Laboratory measurements of optical constants of laboratory haze/condensate analogs at broad spectral wavelengths are crucial for the effort of interpreting the spectral observations by the Cassini-Huygens mission. However, there is a general lack of studies in vacuum ultraviolet, near-IR, and far-IR spectral regions, which is necessary for the Cassini’s UVIS, VIMS, and CIRS instruments. We propose to determine the optical constants of laboratory-generated complex organic matter in the wavelength region between 0.030 μm and 500 μm (20 cm-1), which covers spectral region crucial for the Cassini spectroscopic instruments (the UVIS, ISS, VIMS, and CIRS) and the DISR on the Huygens Probe. Our initial effort would be focused on the plausible organic hazes in Titan and Saturn by investigating complex organic materials 1) with/without nitrogen inclusion and 2) various degree of saturation [(H-N)/C]. Comlex organics consisting of C/H/O elements will also be investigated as potential organic matter on the surface of icy bodies and Saturn’s ring particles. Reliable optical constants from this proposed work would help the effort in interpretation of broad spectral observations by the Cassini mission to constrain the chemical and physical nature of those organic haze materials.

Reflight of the Stratospheric TeraHertz Observatory: STO-2 - Collaborative Proposal

Monday, November 03 2014 - 10:31 pm, PST
Here we propose the "Reflight of the Stratospheric TeraHertz Observatory: STO-2". STO-2 will address a key problem in modern astrophysics, understanding the Life Cycle of the Interstellar Medium (ISM). STO-2 will survey approximately ¼ of the Southern Galactic plane in the dominant interstellar cooling line [CII] (158 µm) and the important star formation tracer [NII] (205 µm). With ~1 arcminute angular resolution, STO-2 will spatially resolve atomic, ionic and molecular clouds out to 10 kpc. Taking advantage of its enhanced, extended lifetime cryogenic receivers, the STO-2 survey will be conducted at unparalleled sensitivity levels. STO-2 will uniquely probe the pivotal formative and disruptive stages in the life cycle of interstellar clouds and the relationship between global star formation rates and the properties of the ISM. Combined with previous HI and CO surveys, STO-2 will create 3-dimensional maps of the structure, dynamics, turbulence, energy balance, and pressure of the Milky Way's ISM, as well as the star formation rate. Once we gain an understanding of the relationship between ISM properties and star formation in the Milky Way, we can better interpret observations of nearby galaxies and the distant universe.

Mars Surface Processes, Exploration and Educational Outreach

Monday, November 03 2014 - 7:35 pm, PST
The proposal contains four broad tasks. Task 1 outlines Mars Landing Site Selection activities support for the Mars Science lab 2009 mission. Task 2 suppors HiRISE Science CoI team responsibilities as part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). Task 3 supports the PI's responsibilities for leading and developing HiRISE's Education and Public Outreach effort. Task 4 involves the continuation of PI Gulick's The Geologist's Field Assistant project.