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  • Grad Student John Blalock wins NASA Fellowship

    2015/08/06

    BIG Congratulations to Planetary Science PhD student John Blalock, who has won a prestigious NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship to support his doctoral dissertation research!

    John’s winning research proposal was titled “Measurement of Seasonal Changes in Saturn’s Zonal Wind Profile using Cassini ISS images,” in which he proposed to examine images of Saturn collected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.  “ISS” stands for the Imaging Science Subsystem — the name of the visible wavelength cameras aboard the spacecraft.  John proposed to analyze the movements of the clouds on Saturn to measure how they are getting blown around by the winds.

    Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn for over 10 years, so John has reasons to believe that he will be able to see seasonal changes in the global wind patterns. Seasonal effects on Saturn are exaggerated because the winter hemisphere is shaded by the shadows cast by the rings — i.e., the winter hemisphere of Saturn gets extra cold.  John’s hypothesis is that this large seasonal temperature swing has an effect on the atmospheric jetstreams.  Until today, nobody has tried to make measurements of this extreme seasonal effects on Saturn’s atmospheric dynamics, so that is what John will work on as part of his doctoral research.

    John’s research is supervised by Prof. Kunio Sayanagi, who is an affiliate member of Cassini’s Imaging Science Team.

    Congratulations, John!