Houston, we have liftoff – welcome to my first ever blog! My name is Dayl Martin and I am a current undergraduate student at the University of Manchester. I have just completed my third year of the four year MEarthSci Geology with Planetary Science degree and I can honestly say I’m thoroughly enjoying being an undergraduate student here.
Introduction aside, why am I writing a blog today? Well, I am spending this summer in Houston, Texas working with the USRA (that is the Universities Space Research Association) and NASA’s LPI (Lunar and Planetary Institute) as a summer intern! I was applying in February with the dream of spending the summer here and now it is actually here, I can’t quite believe it! I have now been in Houston for three weeks with the first week being a mini-break and these last two weeks working at the LPI. My desk is based in the library (my favourite part of most buildings) and it is a huge library based around planetary science and solar system exploration. From books and journals to globes of various planetary bodies and original photographs taken by many different space missions, this library really has everything you could ever wish to read or see and it is open to the public if you are ever in the area (I would highly recommend it).
So why am I here? I am working alongside Dr Paul Spudis and I’m currently creating a geological map of the Orientale Basin – a giant multi-ring impact basin situated on the western edge of the moon – using recent, high resolution images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. After recently finishing a hand-drawn geological map of the area, I am now in the process of digitising it using ArcGIS. Hopefully by the end of week 3 (of 10) I will have an almost finished digitised map of the entire basin and all of its units which I will use to try to determine more about the history and process of formation of the basin. This could then be applied to other impact craters/basins on the moon and potentially (and hopefully!) answer some of the as-yet unsolved mysteries of some of the larger impact craters on the lunar surface.
With me are 13 other interns working on a variety of projects surrouding the Moon, Mars, Earth, Asteroids and Space missions, all of whom were chosen from almost 600 applicants and they are a fantastic group of people to be a part of and to work with. There are also a group of lunar interns, one of whom is a current PhD student at Manchester so I will not say too much about them! Except that they are also a great group.
Besides work, I have visited the Johnson Space Centre and Space Centre Houston multiple times already (and spent far too much money there), been on a nature walk and visited the local bar many times for games of pool. I went to see the Ireland v USA rugby game that was situated in Houston and I’ve seen a sunbow. I also went to see a fantastic presentation on Black Holes given by Dr Andrew Hamilton (which will shortly be available at this link: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/lectures).
Hopefully by the time I post again I will have met Buzz Aldrin (an Apollo 11 astronaut and the second man to walk on the moon) and have signed copies of some of his books! If you have any questions about the work here, the LPI or Houston in general, please don’t hesitate to ask. Finally, I will leave you with this stunning image of a panoramic of one of the displays within Space Centre Houston. Enjoy!