Jahnavi Shah

PhD Student, Planetary Science

Exploration Science Summer Internship

Hi all,

I am very excited to share my experience of my first week (of the 10-week program) as an Exploration Science summer intern at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston, Texas. The internship is run by the LPI-JSC Center for Lunar Science and Exploration and is supported by funding from the LPI and the NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute at NASA Ames Research Center. The program is designed for graduate students to get involved in activities that support missions to the Moon using the Orion crew vehicle, the Deep Space Gateway, and robotic assets on the lunar surface. The intern group is advised by Dr. David Kring.


The first few days consisted of orientation, facility tours, tutorials, and project introduction (which will be described later in the post). We got introduction remarks from the director of LPI (Dr. Louise Prockter) and our advisor (Dr. David Kring). We also had presentations from Human Resources and IT staff, typical first week routine at a new job.

Welcome remarks by Dr. Louise Prockter, Director of LPI.

Orientation also included a presentation from the library staff and a tour of the space. I can’t wait to start exploring this library! It has an amazing collection of maps, books, videos, and Apollo mission transcripts! There are also a lot of globes!

LPI library

Intern Team

I am really looking forward to working with the intern team (group photo below). The team is academically diverse; some expertise include isotope geochemistry, lunar petrology and regolith studies, impact modelling, asteroid mining, and Martian surface process studies. After spending a week together, we have figured out where each individual’s skill set will play an important role in the project. In addition to contributing our skills, we also hope to learn new skills from each other! Outside of work, we’ve had a chance to bond more casually and socially as well which I think is integral part of team building. The success of a team project is not only determined by the scientific expertise, but also team dynamics. We have a nice routine in place so far in terms of communication and weekly goal development and hope to continue that.

Exploration Science 2019 Interns. Back row (left to right): Sarah Boazman (University College London, UK) , Samuel Halim (University of London, UK), Aleksandra Gawronska (Miami University, USA), Cosette Gilmour (York University, Canada) , Venkata Satya Kumar Animireddi (Andhra University, India) , Harish (Physical Research Laboratory, India); front row (left to right): Me, Natasha Barrett (University of Alberta, Canada), Kathryn McCanaan (University of Manchester, UK) .

The project

Our project is confidential at this stage but I can say that it is related to aiding future human exploration of the Moon. With NASA’s recent announcement about return to the Moon by 2024, lunar research is more important than ever, and I am thrilled about getting an opportunity to contribute towards it. We’ll be working with a wide range of lunar datasets including imagery, laser altimetry, surface temperature, mineral composition, and gravity. Because we’ll be working extensively with these datasets, I’ll make sure to write a post in the next few weeks about details of different datasets (and their corresponding missions). We will also be using ArcGIS to make multiple maps for our region of interest. This is one area where I can apply my previous experience working with ArcMap. Since we only got a finalized project at the end of the week, we’ll get a real start on it next week. Stay tuned for more updates!

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