The article 'Behind the Iron Curtain: How Methane-Making Microbes Kept the Early Earth Warm' exposes research on methane interaction over earth's temperature.
Dr. Jennifer Glass joined the GT faculty in fall 2013 as Assistant Professor in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with a courtesy appointment in Biology. She earned BSc degrees in Earth Sciences and Oceanography from the University of Washington, a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Arizona State University, and was awarded a NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Fellowship at Caltech. Her research focuses on the geochemistry and microbiology of methane and nitrogen in context of the global biochemical cycles and their significance in diverse ecosystems.
Since arrival at GT, she was awarded $849,858 in NASA and NSF funding as PI and $1,808,339 as co-PI, published or submitted seven manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals, and became an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Microbiology. She also gave 15 invited presentations on GT research, and led the creation of the new annual Southeastern Biogeochemistry Symposium, now in its third year.
From the article: Landslides on Ceres Reflect Hidden Ice
Massive landslides, similar to those found on Earth, are occurring on the asteroid Ceres. That’s according to a new study led by the Georgia Institute of Technology, adding to the growing evidence that Ceres retains a significant amount of water ice.
The study is published in the journal Nature Geoscience. It used data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft to identify three different types of landslides, or flow features, on the Texas-sized asteroid.
Type I are relatively round, large and have thick "toes" at their ends. They look similar to rock glaciers and icy landslides in Earth’s arctic. Type I landslides are mostly found at high latitudes, which is also where the most ice is thought to reside near Ceres' surface.
Type II features are the most common of Ceres’ landslides and look similar to deposits left by avalanches on Earth. They are thinner and longer than Type I and found at mid-latitudes. The authors affectionately call one such Type II landslide "Bart" because of its resemblance to the elongated head of Bart Simpson from TV's "The Simpsons."
Ceres' Type III features appear to form when some of the ice is melted during impact events. These landslides at low latitudes are always found coming from large-impact craters.
Georgia Tech Assistant Professor and Dawn Science Team Associate Britney Schmidt led the study. She believes it provides more proof that the asteroid’s shallow subsurface is a mixture of rock and ice.
“Landslides cover more area in the poles than at the equator, but most surface processes generally don’t care about latitude,” said Schmidt, a faculty member in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “That’s one reason why we think it’s ice affecting the flow processes. There’s no other good way to explain why the poles have huge, thick landslides; mid-latitudes have a mixture of sheeted and thick landslides; and low latitudes have just a few.”
The study’s researchers were surprised at just how many landslides Ceres has in general. About 20 percent to 30 percent of craters greater than 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide have some type of landslide associated with them. Such widespread features formed by "ground ice" processes, made possible because of a mixture of rock and ice, have only been observed before on Earth and Mars.
Based on the shape and distribution of landslides on Ceres, the authors estimate that the upper layers of Ceres may range from 10 percent to 50 percent ice by volume.
“These landslides offer us the opportunity to understand what’s happening in the upper few kilometers of Ceres,” said Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Heather Chilton, a co-author on the paper. “That’s a sweet spot between information about the upper meter or so provided by the GRaND (Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND) and VIR (Visible and Infrared Spectrometer) instrument data, and the tens of kilometers-deep structure elucidated by crater studies.”
"It’s just kind of fun that we see features on this small planet that remind us of those on the big planets, like Earth and Mars,” Schmidt said. “It seems more and more that Ceres is our innermost icy world.”
The Dawn mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants, visit: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission.
Co-written by Elizabeth Landau, Jet Propulsion Lab
For More Information:
Dr. Britney Schmidt, Assistant Professor, received a BS in Physics from University of Arizona and Ph.D. in Geophysics and Space physics from UCLA. Her area of expertise is planetary ices and the early solar system. She is keenly interested in the habitability of icy worlds to search for life beyond Earth. A veteran of Antarctic fieldwork, she studies Earth’s ice shelves and glaciers to capture the impacts of changing climate and explore analogs for Europa. Britney played a central role in developing several mission concepts, including the recently selected Europa Multiple Flyby mission where she is Co-I on the REASON radar team. She is an associate of the Dawn Framing Camera team. She is PI of Sub-Ice Marine and Planetary Analog Ecosystems (SIMPLE), a $5M NASA program studying the McMurdo Ice Shelf using remote sensing and underwater vehicles. She leads the Georgia Tech built Icefin AUV for under ice
The annual EAS awards ceremony was held April 28, 2017. The ceremony honors students and faculty for their accomplishments throughout the academic year. This year's awards went to:
Mary Francis McDaniel: Rutt Bridges Undergrad Research Initiative
Kayla Duarte: Rutt Bridges Undergrad Research Initiative
Chloe Stanton: Quarter Century Award
Hongyu Guo: Glen Cass Award
Lucas Liuzzo: Research Excellence Award
Joshua Mendez Harper: Best paper Award
Tiegan Hobbs: Kurt Frankel Award
Ting Fang: John Bradshaw Award
Judy Curry Award
Storm Photo Contest Winners
First Place: Dr. Robert Black - This is the picture on the main Slideshow
Second Place: Hongyu Guo
Third Place: Junwen Chen
Assistant Professor Chris Reinhard is the lead author on the study: False Negatives for Remote Life Detection on Ocean-Bearing Planets: Lessons from the Early Earth, published in the Journal Astrobiology.
Inside Science has an article on the paper by Ramin Skibba. Here in an excerpt:
To a distant observer peering through a telescope, even Earth would not have shown signs of life through most of its past. Despite the fact that our planet was teeming with mostly microscopic life for three billion years, levels of oxygen and methane -- gases often produced by metabolizing organisms -- would have been too low to be noticed from afar. This means that today's scientists on Earth might not be able to detect commonly assumed signs of extraterrestrial life, and they might give up on planets that are actually inhabited, according to a new study in the journal Astrobiology.
“There are huge swaths of time throughout Earth’s history during which it would’ve been difficult to see the presence of these metabolisms even though we know from the rock record that they were around. It’s a sobering thing,” said Christopher Reinhard, an Earth scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and lead author of the study, who presented the research at a conference in Mesa, Arizona on April 27.
Dr. Chris Reinhard’s background is originally in evolutionary biology, but his past and current research is best characterized as falling under the label of 'deep time biogeochemistry' — He is fascinated and astonished by the observation that our planet has come to support a pervasive biosphere, and seek to reconstruct how we got here. This involves combining techniques from aqueous geochemistry, geology, and biogeochemical modeling in an effort to reconstruct Earth surface environments as they have changed over long timescales through Earth's deep history and how this evolution has been coupled with the evolution of microbial and macroscopic life. He received his Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from the University of California, Riverside in 2012 and joined Georgia Tech as an Assistant Professor in 2014.
Excerpt from Smoke from Wildfires Can Have Lasting Climate Impact
More than 30 years after Voyager 2 sped past Uranus, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are using the spacecraft’s data to learn more about the icy planet. Their new study suggests that Uranus’ magnetosphere, the region defined by the planet’s magnetic field and the material trapped inside it, gets flipped on and off like a light switch every day as it rotates along with the planet. It’s “open” in one orientation, allowing solar wind to flow into the magnetosphere; it later closes, forming a shield against the solar wind and deflecting it away from the planet.
This is much different from Earth’s magnetosphere, which typically only switches between open and closed in response to changes in the solar wind. Earth’s magnetic field is nearly aligned with its spin axis, causing the entire magnetosphere to spin like a top along with the Earth’s rotation. Since the same alignment of Earth’s magnetosphere is always facing toward the sun, the magnetic field threaded in the ever-present solar wind must change direction in order to reconfigure Earth’s field from closed to open. This frequently occurs with strong solar storms.
But Uranus lies and rotates on its side, and its magnetic field is lopsided — it’s off-centered and tilted 60 degrees from its axis. Those features cause the magnetic field to tumble asymmetrically relative to the solar wind direction as the icy giant completes its 17.24-hour full rotation.
Rather than the solar wind dictating a switch like here on Earth, the researchers say Uranus’ rapid rotational change in field strength and orientation lead to a periodic open-close-open-close scenario as it tumbles through the solar wind.
“Uranus is a geometric nightmare,” said Carol Paty, the Georgia Tech associate professor who co-authored the study. “The magnetic field tumbles very fast, like a child cartwheeling down a hill head over heels. When the magnetized solar wind meets this tumbling field in the right way, it can reconnect and Uranus’ magnetosphere goes from open to closed to open on a daily basis.”
Paty says this solar wind reconnection is predicted to occur upstream of Uranus’ magnetosphere over a range of latitudes, with magnetic flux closing in various parts of the planet’s twisted magnetotail.
Reconnection of magnetic fields is a phenomenon throughout the solar system. It occurs when the direction of the interplanetary magnetic field – which comes from the sun and is also known as the heliospheric magnetic field – is opposite a planet’s magnetospheric alignment. Magnetic field lines are then spliced together and rearrange the local magnetic topology, allowing a surge of solar energy to enter the system.
Magnetic reconnection is one reason for Earth’s auroras. Auroras could be possible at a range of latitudes on Uranus due to its off-kilter magnetic field, but the aurora is difficult to observe because the planet is nearly 2 billion miles from Earth. The Hubble Space Telescope occasionally gets a faint view, but it can’t directly measure Uranus’ magnetosphere.
The Georgia Tech researchers used numerical models to simulate the planet’s global magnetosphere and to predict favorable reconnection locations. They plugged in data collected by Voyager 2 during its five-day flyby in 1986. It’s the only time a spacecraft has visited.
The researchers say learning more about Uranus is one key to discovering more about planets beyond our solar system.
“The majority of exoplanets that have been discovered appear to also be ice giants in size,” said Xin Cao, the Georgia Tech Ph.D. candidate in earth and atmospheric sciences who led the study. “Perhaps what we see on Uranus and Neptune is the norm for planets: very unique magnetospheres and less-aligned magnetic fields. Understanding how these complex magnetospheres shield exoplanets from stellar radiation is of key importance for studying the habitability of these newly discovered worlds.”
The paper, “Diurnal and Seasonal Variability of Uranus’ Magnetosphere,” is currently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.
Xin Cao, Georgia Tech Ph.D. candidate & faculty member Carol Paty were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.
Here is an excerpt from Georgia Tech News Center article by Jason Maderer:
Dr. Ken Ferrier, Assistant Professor in Earth & Atmospheric Sciences has received a two year grant from the American Chemical Society. The research project being sponsored is titled: Sensitivity of Sea Level to Sediment Erosion and Deposition in Massive Sedimentary Systems
From the abstract:
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was first published by the Ocean Science and Engineering Program on Aug. 9, 2017.
In November 2016, Georgia Tech launched the Ph.D. in Ocean Science and Engineering (OSE, www.ocean.gatech.edu), an interdisciplinary graduate program across the schools and faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Biological Sciences (BIOL) and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences (EAS). Ten students make up the inaugural cohort, which will begin its studies in the 2017 Fall semester.
The OSE program has two goals:
- to educate the next generation of transdisciplinary ocean scientists and engineers by combining basic and applied sciences with innovative ocean technologies
- to advance interdisciplinary research at the frontiers of the physical, biological, chemical and human dimensions of ocean systems.
The program attracted a diverse group of applicants interested in specializing in Ocean Technology, Ocean Sustainability, Marine Living Resources, Ocean and Climate, and Coastal Ocean Systems. Following are the members of the inaugural class, who will begin their studies in the Fall 2017 semester. Their orientation will take place on Aug. 14-18, 2017.
Alexandra Muscalus (OSE-CEE)
Alexandra Muscalus obtained a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2016. She joins OSE with Georgia Tech Presidential and Institute Fellowships. Her research interests include ocean energy and fieldwork approaches to nature-based coastal resilience and shoreline change. She aspires to advance the field of coastal engineering as a professor. In her free time, Muscalus enjoys backpacking, scuba diving, playing musical instruments, running, and cooking.
Roth Conrad (OSE-BIOL)
Roth Conrad joins OSE with a Georgia Tech Presidential Fellowship. “I spent eight years traveling, exploring, and acquiring a diverse skill set and world view,” he says. “I worked on a sailboat in the Bahamas, which deeply affected my awareness of the environment.” Conrad also built and traveled across the country in a vegetable-oil-powered school bus, which inspired his fascination with microbiology and biological degradation. “Both experiences showed me how rewarding sharing ideas with people can be,” he says.
“My mind full of questions, appreciation for the environment, curiosity about microbes, and desire to share ideas are a few reasons why I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Ocean Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech.”
Abigail Johnson (OSE-EAS)
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, and a master’s degree in biological and environmental sciences from the University of Rhode Island, Abigail Johnson looks forward to continuing her education in the OSE program. With this Ph.D., she says,
“I hope to advance our tools in search for and our knowledge of Earth’s deep ocean life.”
Specifically, she plans to use a novel high-pressure chamber to characterize microbial communities in methane hydrates from the Gulf of Mexico incubated under in situ pressures. Upon receiving a Ph.D., she plans to continue her career in academia, with the goals of “researching the mysteries of our deep ocean and educating our future generations.”
Benjamin Hurwitz (OSE-CEE)
Benjamin Hurwitz is an electrical engineer from Brooklyn, N.Y. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School with a focus in chemistry before attending Colby College, in Maine, from where he graduated with a B.A. in Applied Mathematics. A long-time scuba diver, he spent a year in the Virgin Islands, teaching and guiding divers around the reefs. He returned to school at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he spent three years earning a B.S. in Electrical Engineering with a focus on microelectronics.
His interests include marine robotic electrical systems, instrumentation design, and integrated circuit fabrication.
When he’s not working, he can be found on the ice rink, in the climbing gym, or on the ocean.
Gian Giacomo Navarra (OSE-EAS)
Since high school Gian Giacomo Navarra was interested in astronomy and mathematics. He pursued a bachelor’s degree in theoretical physics at the University of Bologna, Italy. After an undergraduate research experience in the University of Bristol, he got interested and completed a master’s degree in condensed matter and statistical mechanics in 2016. After completing his thesis in computational mechanics, Navarra says,
“I realized that the methods I learned and developed in statistical mechanics have the potential to advance the geosciences, in particular ocean and climate dynamics (for example, El Niño), which have a high degree of stochastic physics.”
Melissa Ruszczyk (OSE-BIOL)
Melissa Ruszczyk began her undergraduate education in 2013 at Allegheny College, in Meadville, Pa., where she did research in limnology, microbiology, and disease ecology.
She also fostered her passion for music, gave two public clarinet recitals during her four years at Allegheny, and was featured soloist and concert master of the wind symphony during her senior year.
Upon completion of her comprehensive senior research project, Serial Sonification of Chaoborus Behavior in Response to Daphnia Size: Intricacies of the Predator-Prey Relationship, Ruszczyk graduated magna cum laude with bachelor degrees in biology and music.
Youngjun Son (OSE-CEE)
Youngjun Son graduated with master degrees in industrial engineering and in naval architecture at Seoul National University in 2012. From 2011 to 2017, he researched hydrodynamics and mooring technologies at Hyundai Heavy Industries, in Ulsan, Korea. His research experience includes environmental loads, potential theory, nonlinear damping, damping linearization, spectral analysis, extreme statistics, design waves, load combination factors, mooring, risers, dynamic positioning, and wave basin model tests. In the OSE program, he will study hydrodynamics and ocean mechanics...
...to develop new devices for ocean applications such as renewable energy converters.
He is motivated by the need to integrate diverse and complex knowledge beyond one particular discipline in order to develop new marine resources.
Minda Monteagudo (OSE-EAS)
Minda Monteagudo completed her B.A. in Earth Science at the University of Southern California and M.S. in Earth Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She joins the OSE program as a second-year Ph.D. student, specializing in paleoclimate and working on...
...reconstructing past sea surface temperature changes over the last glacial cycle from sediment cores in the Central Equatorial Pacific, for which very few records exist.
Previously, she worked on refining Mg/Ca paleothermometry, one of the most widely applied proxies for reconstructing past surface sea temperatures.
Xiyuan Zeng (OSE-EAS)
Xiyuan Zeng completed a Bachelor of Engineering in Marine Resources Development Technology in 2017 at Shandong University, China. For his bachelor’s thesis, he studied the characteristics of the peripheral flow field of circular cylinders. As an undergraduate, he also conducted research in remote sensing to estimate the seasonal variation of marine phytoplankton in the South China Sea. He also participated in several student training programs to study marine bacillus species and the New Zealand hybrid abalone.
He would like to use computational fluid mechanics to study ocean circulation and biophysical interactions in the marine environment.
Tyler Vollmer (OSE-EAS)
From Riverside, Calif., Tyler Vollmer graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a double major in geophysics and mathematics/atmospheric and oceanic sciences at age 19, and began research in paleoclimatology. After being awarded a Georgia Tech Presidential Fellowship, he joined the OSE program. His research uses geochemical proxies, such as 13C, and 18O isotopes, and climate modeling to reconstruct past climatic conditions, such as temperature, ocean circulation, and atmospheric circulation. The results would add context to recent climate change.
In his spare time, Vollmer is a competitive figure skater (started at age 3). He was the Intermediate Men National Champion in 2013.
He hopes to continue in academia, with the goal of becoming a professor.
A Message of Appreciation
OSE program Directors Emanuele Di Lorenzo and Annalisa Bracco, professors in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, extend sincere thanks to Susan Cozzens, Georgia Tech’s vice provost for graduate education; Paul Goldbart, dean of the College of Sciences; Gary May, former dean of the College of Engineering and now the chancellor of the University of California, Davis; and the Georgia Tech leadership team for their support and encouragement in establishing the OSE program.
Di Lorenzo and Bracco also extend special thanks to the OSE Faculty who have worked very hard in recruiting this first class of OSE students.
In exactly one week, the great American eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, will sweep across the U.S. The Georgia Tech campus has geared up for a safe and enjoyable eclipse experience, beginning with the distribution of solar-eclipse glasses.
The first safety rule is never to look at the sun directly without special eye protection. Direct viewing can cause permanent eye damage.
For this reason, the College of Sciences and the Office of Undergraduate Education have teamed up to make available solar-eclipse glasses to the Georgia Tech community. We have plenty, but if not enough, we highly encourage sharing so everyone can view the solar sensation safely.
The glasses will be distributed at 12-1 PM on eclipse day, Aug. 21, 2017, at six locations across campus:
- In front of Barnes and Noble in Tech Square
- Under the Binary Bridge near Noonan Courtyard
- At the atrium side of Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons
- On Tech Walkway in front of the Starbucks side of Clough Commons and Skiles Building
- In front of the Student Center
- By the Einstein statue
After 1 PM, check for availability at Kessler Campanile.
Look for the distribution signs, and take note of the guidelines for safe viewing.
- Inspect solar-eclipse glasses before use. Discard if shade is torn, punctured, or in any way separated from the frame.
- Do not use with binoculars, telescopes, or cameras.
- Do not use continuously for more than 3 minutes.
- While using solar-eclipse glasses, do not move around, drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery.
- Do not use solar-eclipse glasses with a diseased eye or after eye surgery.
- Refer to solar-eclipse glasses for more information.