Methodology

Since coding languages are relatively new to me, I will use a traditional style of research, meaning I will depend mostly on the documentation for Python, as well as outside example problems. I will rely on the wisdom and expertise of Dr. Young and Professor Esposito for questions relating to both topic and coding.

I will use Erich Karkoschka’s[1] paper on the complex absorption bands of methane as resource for cross-reference with my figures. Karkoschka’s paper will allow myself a check of associated strong methane absorbers with associated wavelengths corresponding to individual images of Titan. I will manipulate the raw data in the computing language, Python, and further my experience manipulating data in this powerful and up-and-coming scientific language. This work will produce thousands of images of Titan, each in range of false colors at different infrared wavelengths. To aid in concepts involved in the outcome of the data from Python, I also intend to research: CCD sensors that are present on the space telescopes[2][3], data reduction techniques that allow for manipulating raw data to produce desired quantities and plots,[4] continuing working with basic coding syntax to become more comfortable in the computing language environment, and working with data structures and large data set.

Python is a dynamic language, it allows the user to evaluate code on the fly, and is very user friendly. More importantly, Python has a host of free libraries, specifically in the atmospheric and scientific realm that will provide a critical resource. For this reason, and the fact that Python is really the only computing language I have had exposure to, I will work with the data using this language exclusively. Although the work I will be doing individually is not groundbreaking, it is important and it is extremely valuable to me.

I will be working with primary data sets from the telescopes, but will not be working with secondary data from any manipulated data. The data from the HST will be from the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and will encompass looking at Titan with a range of 0.6-0.95 microns. With the two instruments on the Keck telescope, OSIRIS (OH-Suppressing Infrared Integral Field Spectrograph) and NIRC2, Titan will be analyzed in a range of 1-5 microns. And lastly the VIMS (Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer) aboard the Cassini spacecraft, Titan will be viewed in a range of 0.3-5 microns. All of these wavelength ranges correspond to specific and important methane absorption bands.

 

Time Schedule

After consulting both Professor Esposito and more importantly, Dr. Young, the tentative schedule will consist of working with each data set separately. I will take a bit of time to understand and compile working code for the input and analysis of the raw data, so I propose that for the month of October I will attempt to work with the HST data to produce the first set of images cubes. Once the task of understanding how the code should work, I will have a systematic way of interpreting the other sets of data. Since the other data sets won’t be the same type as the STIS files, there will still be some customization to my code to interpret the other file types.

I propose that with functioning code, I shall focus on creating the other sets of 3d data cubes from the other two instruments by the end of the month of November. The idea is then to allow myself some time at the end of the semester to work on summarizing my project and allow for a comprehensive poster involving all aspects of my project, along with that of the overall group objectives. This will give me a time frame of several weeks to focus intently on this objective.

 

Budget Justification

I am requesting for the maximum allotment for the calendar year for an important reason. The work proposed ahead will require at least 10 hours a week to efficiently make progress. I intend on spending at least 2 hours a week in meetings with Dr. Young/Professor Esposito with the remaining time split between familiarizing myself with reference publications and actually writing and evaluating my programs. With that, I am requesting an additional 40 hours of compensation for the research I have already done for the month of September, at 10 hours a week, as preparation in case my proposal has been accepted.

[1] Spectrophotometry of the Jovian Planets and Titan at 300- to 1000-nm Wavelength: The Methane Spectrum

[2] STIS Instrument Handbook Cycle 22

[3] STIS Data Handbook

[4] PyFITS Documentation