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Atmospheric Composition of Planets

Project: 
(See detailed description of the project in the attached PDF) Spectroscopy can tell us about the chemical composition of celestial objects. Absorption and emission lines are like chemical fingerprints. The Moon and the planets of the Solar system shine by reflecting sunlight. At a first approximation, because the Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, reflected moonlight is mostly “pure” sunlight. The planets on the other hand, because of their atmospheres, a gas composed of atoms and/or molecules, will absorb some of the reflected light at specific wavelengths. Molecules like CO2, SO2 and atoms like N, O, etc will leave a specific trace in the light they emit. By subtracting the lunar spectrum to the ones of the planets, you will be able to isolate the difference, and try to figure out the composition of the atmospheres. The facility at Nooitgedacht will be used for this observational project.
Node This Project Is Offered On: 
(NWU)
Project Info: 
PDF icon 2019-NASSP-BL-atm.pdf

Supervisor

Bruno
Letarte

Co-Supervisor

Ilani
Loubser
Requirements for students to address: 
The Nooitgedacht Observatory is located 30 min south of the NWU Potchefstroom campus. A car will be provided for your trips to the telescope, but you will need a valid driver license to get there. Although the telescope is state-of-the-art with modern software, a good understanding of computers and hardware in general is desired. You will have to install/update drivers and software for the various parts of the telescope, troubleshoot problems, handle expensive equipment, use screwdrivers, duct tape, etc. You might also have to manhandle giant lizards single-handedly.
Research Area: 
Astrophysics


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