I started graduate work at Stony Brook University in 2016. I am currently a Ph.D Candidate working under Dr. Deanne Rogers. My research interests center on the study of bedrock exposures containing rocks likely deposited during the first billion years of Martian history. I find working with this time period to be particularly fascinating for several reasons. First, we see evidence for a world that was much more active than today's quiescent conditions. Secondly, the Earth's geological record from this period in history has been largely obliterated by plate tectonics. Finally, the Martian geological system began shutting down at roughly the same time life arose on Earth. As a result, the Martian geologic record probably has a lot to say about the early evolution of a planet and its possible feedbacks with the evolution of life.
I study these bedrock outcrops using a combination of orbital remote sensing techniques, including thermal infrared (TIR) spectroscopy, thermophysical analysis, and geomorphology. These techniques allow me to identify where exposures of bedrock are present, study their composition, and infer how they formed. My work involves processing data collected by the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), which collects temperature data of the Martian surface at 100 m/pixel scale at 8 wavelengths bewteen ~7 and ~13 microns. By measuring how solar infrared light is reflected at different wavelengths, we can get a sense of the minerals that may be present. THEMIS targets a region of the spectrum where the crystal lattices of silicate minerals (and some sulfate minerals) vibrate at the same frequency of incoming solar radiation, absorbing a small portion of it instead of reflecting or reradiating it. From this we can make first-order interpretations about the source of these rocks (e.g. whether they originated from Martian mantle or crust) and whether they have experienced substantial weathering.
In practice, the relatively coarse resolution of THEMIS means that we are rarely measuring the composition of a homogeneous surface. Instead, we are measuring a mixture of bedrock and regolith covering it, which may have a composition different from one another. My current work is to develop a method to separate bedrock compositions from that of regolith. Bedrock and regolith change temperature at different rates, and hotter surfaces contribute more to the observed thermal spectra. In theory, images taken in the mid-afternoon will be dominated by the spectrum of regolith materials, while those taken in the mid-to-late evening will show a stronger contribution from bedrock. I am taking advantage of THEMIS being placed in a new orbit (observations taken ~6-7 pm local time), where observations provide a great contrast with observations taken between 2-4 pm in its previous orbit.
Some other projects I am interested in pursuing are the characterization of a possible flood lava province in the Terra Cimmeria region of the Martian highlands, and a study of unusual knob-forming units that occur in a handful of ancient craters and bedrock plains.