Introducing Cayman Unterborn

I am a 5th year Ph.D Candidate at The Ohio State University working in the School of Earth Science. My research looks at what it takes to build a habitable planet from a geologic perspective rather than the more traditional definition of the “habitable zone”. My work blends astronomy, geology and physics to understand which planetary compositions produce a planet able to sustain liquid water on its surface as well as control the carbon content of the atmosphere. On the Earth, this regulation of water/carbon is a consequence of plate tectonics, which in turn is driven by compositional differences in the mantle and an internal heat budget great enough to support interior convection. My previous work has looked at some of the extremes of this “geologic habitable zone”, such as so called “diamond planets” as well as measuring stellar Thorium abundance as a proxy for extrasolar heat budgets. The end goal of my research is to understand just how special the Earth may be with regards to it being habitable, or perhaps there are a range of compositions, perhaps even very un-Earth-like ones, that are able to produce dynamic planets capable of sustaining surface water and maybe even conditions to support life.

Introducing Fred Calef III

This week we have Fred Calef III hosting astrotweeps. Fred graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in Geological Sciences in 2010. His dissertation was on fresh small rayed impact craters on Mars, looking at ejecta retention rates and what they tell us about the current environment and geomorphic evolution of the surface. He postdoc’d at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) via the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) doing landing site analysis for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL, aka Curiosity) as well as trained as an Engineering Camera Payload Uplink Lead (ECAM-PUL) for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity. Towards the end of his postdoc, he was hired at JPL as the Geospatial Information Scientist, aka ‘Keeper of the Maps’, and Co-Localization Scientist for MSL. Besides work on MER and MSL, Fred is on the InSight lander science team as ‘Keeper of the Map’ for placement of a seismometer (SEIS) and heatprobe (HP3) as well as doing landing site analysis for InSight and the Mars2020 rover. You can find Fred on twitter at @cirquelar