Tuesday, March 14, 2017

SEDS Ascension

Hello hello~

Two weekends ago, I had the lovely opportunity to attend a mini-conference organized by the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).  SEDS is, as the name implies, an international student-run organization for all things space related.  SEDS-Canada is predominantly based in Toronto and places a strong emphasis on the engineering side of the industry, largely based on student membership from the University of Toronto and nearby universities' strong engineering programs.

SEDS Ascension was their annual big event, and they had invited over a dozen keynote speakers from across various facets of space exploration to speak, including CPSX's own Dr. Osinski, who spoke on "Getting the Maple Leaf Back to Mars" which included mention of the successful Mars Sample Return Analogue Mission that Gavin and I took part in last autumn.

From Dr. Osinski's talk. Many places on Earth can be used
as analogues for geomorphological features on Mars, including
terrain wedge polygons seen in the Canadian High Arctic.
Some of my favourite talks were regarding space policy and economics - that is, how do we rally public interest to support planetary science and exploration and work with government agencies to fund these initiatives? A speaker from Magellan Aerospace spoke about the entwining of space policy and business, and how we can leverage Canada's Innovation Agenda for in a push space sciences.

On a similar vein, a Canadian space economist from NASA HQ spoke about how the drive for space science needs to come from the people.  One of the points he made was that NASA has bases across the U.S.A, and JAXA has bases across Japan, but Canada only has offices in Montreal and Ottawa: engaging the people and researchers across the country would generate more local involvement in the Canadian space program.  I, for one, would strongly support a CSA office in Vancouver.  Not just because Vancouver is my home, but because of the co-existing presence of industrial partners like MDA and UrtheCast having headquarters in the Vancouver area.  Furthermore, the local institutions like the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University have strong engineering, computer science, and earth science programs - I'm sure that there is plenty of opportunity for collaborations with the CSA.

The speaker was pushing for the "Canadian Spacecraft Confederation from every province for the 150th" initiative, in which students across the country would work towards developing a cubesat, and for Canada's 150th anniversary one cubesat from each province would be selected to launch. He argued that national pride generates support for space exploration. The prospect of a satellite developed by young engineers in one's own province would drive local excitement and local support, both training the next generation of aerospace engineers as well as drive towards building a stronger space program nationally.  How can we support the cubesat initiative?  We can write to our local MPs to show our support for the program, and encourage our fellow engineering students to get involved.

I look forward to seeing what comes out of this.

CPSX squad. I took the picture, therefore I am not in it.

Myself, Zach, Derek, Matt, and Liam volunteered at the CPSX booth.  Together, we met a lot of interesting people from a variety of backgrounds.  Mostly the attendees were engineering students, but we also met a few prospective graduate students interested in the CPSX collaborative graduate program (!).

The current president of SEDS-Canada approached me at the end of the conference, and asked if I would be interested in running for board of directors.  I'm not sure if I made a good impression, they are interested in diversifying their board, or if they are just desperate for volunteers, but this seems like a good opportunity to get more involved with space administration in Canada. I've nominated myself as a candidate for vice-chair, and we'll see where it goes!

Cheers,
Elise

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Enstatite Chondrites

Let's take a break from radar for a moment and talk about some of my past work.

In the summer of 2015, I had the opportunity to take part in the Misasa International Summer Internship Program in Misasa, Japan.  The program has two branches: Geochemistry and Geophysics.  I took part in the Geochemistry program, hosted by the Pheasant Memorial Laboratory. Six of us worked as a team to analyse the compositions of three meteorite samples, and interpret any relationships between mineral phases and degree of thermo-metamorphism. All three were enstatite chondrites, the rarest type of meteorite, constituting only 2% of discovered falls. Our samples are as follows:

Things are getting pretty hot right over here

"E" designates that they are enstatite chondrites. H/L refers to them containing relatively high iron or low iron.  The number refers to the degree of thermo-metamorphism, with 7 being the highest (totally melted). Eagle shows the highest degree of thermo-metamorphism of our samples, and Sahara has the least.  The differences between them are striking.  Sahara is completely heterogeneous with abundant condrules, whereas Eagle's minerals are equigranular. Sahara is so primative, that not only is there an abundance of perserved glass matrix, but we even found a Calcium-Aluminium Inclusion! (CAI)  For those unaware, CAIs are the oldest known particles in the solar system, so this is a pretty incredible find. In the middle, NWA-1222 is also heterogenous, but does not have any condrules.  What is most interesting about NWA-1222 is that it seems to show intermediate exsolution phases of Cr and Fe-S minerals as the sample was heated up, but not to the extent or duration of Eagle (whose phases have completely exsolved).

Our objectives are to determine:

- The mineralogical composition of the samples using in situ analysis
- The chemical composition of the samples using whole rock geochemistry
- How the distribution of elements changes between mineral phases as metamorphism increases
- Age date the samples

The Pheasant Memorial Laboratory has every beautiful piece of equipment you could ever want.

Using both the in-situ and whole rock geochemistry techniques together allows us to build a broader picture of how these samples evolved through time and space (pun intended). In summary, we looked at mineral shapes and probed their composition with the scanning electron microscope-electron microprobe fancy hybrid machine, as well as crush up and dissolve bits of the meteorites in acid to find out what the powder was made of.  My favourite part was using the ICP-MS, where I got to blast little holes in our meteorite samples for element analysis.

I'm pipetting something dangerous!

The resulting products were pie charts to show the distribution of elements in different mineral phases (not shown).  

Introductory analytical geochemistry in a nutshell.  I have not shared any elemental analysis pie charts in this post, but you know they exist and what they show.
What we found:

EH3 (Sahara)
- Intergrowths of kamacite (Fe0.9Ni0.1) and troilite (FeS), forming a granophyric-like texture.  These two minerals are fully separate phases in the EL5 and EL6 meteorite.
- CAI contains many complex mineral phases that are not found elsewhere in the sample
- An unknown interstitial "glass" phase contains ample amounts of alkali elements.
- RAMAN identified christobalite (>1470oC silica polymorph)

EL5 (NWA-1222) - Elise's favourite
- Mineral shapes are irregular
- Fantastic exsolution texture between a chromium-bearing phase (proto-daubreelite (FeCr2S4) and troilite (FeS). There is also exsolution of a Mn-rich mineral out of troilite.
-RAMAN identified tridymite (870oC - 1470oC silica polymorph)

I feel fuzzy, proud, and excited every time I look at this figure.  We were getting anomalously high chromium readings for the troilite minerals (2%).  Upon closer inspection, there are small minerals of daubreelite with high Cr (10%) exsolving out of the troilite.  Also the same is happening with manganese, but that is covered by the watermark and isn't discussed as much in this post.

EL6 (Eagle)
- Exsolution of daubreelite (FeCr2S4) and troilite (FeS) is near completion!
- Crystals are (sub) euhedral
- "Mystery" SiO2 phase -> used RAMAN spectroscopy to detect sinoite (Si2N2O), which previous literature explicitly states is not in Eagle.  It's always a good day when you prove someone wrong.



Big picture:

From the exsolution of Cr-phases between the EL5 and EL6, we can constrain the temperature of metamorphism.  The transition of Cr-Troilite to Troilite + Daubreelite occurs below 800oC. SO COOL! (because it's below 800oC? Get it?) I have a ternary diagram that illustrates this, but this post already has quite a few technical figures.  I was the ternary diagram-shishou (master) in my Misasa MISIP cohort. 

We can also constrain the temperature of metamorphism further to being between ~600-800oC by the relative abundances of magnesium sulphides and manganese sulphides.  I made a ternary diagram for that, too. It is nice when your minerals agree with one another.

There is a continuous depletion of sodium from the least to most metamorphosed.  This is evinced by feldspar composition.  K and Na depletion in feldspars may indicate loss of low melting point material with increasing temperature.  I will bless you with at least one of my ternary diagrams.



Age dating

Couldn't age date Sahara (EH3) because we only had a thin section and no bulk sample.
Both Eagle and NWA-1222 showed Sm/Nd isotopes dating close to the age of formation of the solar system, and Rb/Sr ages close to the late heavy bombardment.  It is possible that the Sm/Nd age pertains to the age of formation, while the Rb/Sr ratio dates the age of metamorphism.

In conclusion:

The exsolution of Fe/Mn/Cr phases consistently occur ~600-700oC.  The exsolution lamallae are indicative of slow cooling. This texture constrains peak metamorphism temperature, which likely occurred during the late heavy bombardment period.

We used RAMAN to identify different silica polymorphs.  These minerals likely formed prior to chondrite accretion, but this constrains our temperatures of formation, which was likely during the formation of the solar system. Further, we found sinoite in Eagle, which wasn't supposed to be there.

This post ended up way longer than I expected.  I admit that it is still a quick synopsis of this project, with a plethora of important details and measurements missing.  If you're interested, feel free to contact me and I'm happy to discuss our enstatite chondrite study with you!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Radarclinometry



In starting to write the SOAR-E grant proposal to attain RADARSAT-2 images over Iran, Catherine e-mailed me her 2008 paper that uses an Iranian salt diapir as a case study.  Originally the article was just so I could get the diapir coordinates, but I started to read it and found it quite interesting.

Radar topography of domes on planetary surfaces by Neish et al. (2008) introduced me to the technique of radarclinometry, which is to use radar images to produce topographic information.  By measuring variations in radar image radiance, you can find relative elevations using "shape-from-shading" techniques.  One of the largest controls on radar-backscatter values is the incidence angle at the surface.  If you imagine that a structure is homogenous, you can attribute changes in backscatter to variations in incidence angle, i.e. slope.  Once we know the slope, we can produce a topographic profile for the feature!  Neat, eh?

There are a couple of methods for this that you can use.

A one-dimensional method determines the amount of slope on a surface by measuring the brightness of lines of pixels to make a topographic profile.  This method doesn't give you any information perpendicular to your slope profile. There is a two-dimensional photoclinometry method that fits a digital topographic model to an image.  This incorporates two-dimensions, but is both slow to process and is sensitive to artifacts in the radar backscatter images.  Another method, which is employed here, uses a larger scale image of a specifically shaped feature, and adjusts the height accordingly.  This is less vulnerable to backscatter variations than the other 2-D method.

The purpose of this paper is to determine if you can use radioclinometry to measure the heights and shapes of "viscously emplaced domes", with a specific interest in studying features on Saturn's moon Titan.  The altimetry data for Titan is both sparse and poor resolution, so exploring alternative methods of gaining elevation information can have large impacts on how we study Titanean features.

What do shield volcanos and salt diapirs have in common?  They are both viscously emplaced domes! That is, they both form by the slow movement of thick, soft, deformable material, and make roughly circular shapes.  So, this study assumes a dome-shaped profile, and uses the aforementioned radarclinometry technique to measure the height profiles of viscously emplaced domes across the solar system.  The authors use an Iranian salt diapir of known elevation, and pancake domes on Venus to test their methodology before applying the technique to Ganesa Macula - a 180 km across, circular, radar-dark feature on Titan.  Ganesa Macula is suspected to have volcanic or cryovolcanic origins.

How did they do?

Well, after comparing different models, the authors found that they did a pretty good job of fitting the radarclinometry data they produced to the available topographic data available for the Iranian salt diapir. The terrestrial case study demonstrates a good proof-of-concept for this technique. In contrast, the radarclinometry profiles made for the Venusian pancake domes were consistent, but a little less than the altimetry.  Nonetheless, the heights they measured for Ganesa Macula (2.0-4.9 km) fits previous constraints, so the results are promising. They also estimate the volume of Ganesa Macula ato 30,000-40,000 km^3.  This is a significant volume, because if Ganesa Macula is made of a volcanic lava, based on Titan's heat production rates it would have to becomparable to the duration of Earth's Deccan Traps.  Perhaps Ganesa Macula is the result of a rare event, which would explain why it is such a unique feature on Titan.

I expect that next time I write I'll have fixed the registration issue with my radar images.  I look forward to showing you my PALSAR acquisitions!

Cheers!

Monday, February 6, 2017

From one desert to another

With the intent of returning to the image misregistration issue once I'm back from Québec, I've been switching gears into proposal-writing mode.

Catherine and I have discussed the possibility of extending our work to compare and contrast our Axel Heiberg Island diapirs to those in the Zagros Mountains, Iran. I have frequently referred to Axel Heiberg Island as "having the second highest concentration of salt diapirs in the world".  Well, Iran has the first-highest concentration of salt diapirs in the world.  These two sites would be interesting to compare for multiple reasons.

1. They are both desert environments, meaning that radar signals are less likely to be affected by soil moisture or obstructed by vegetation.
2. They are different types of desert environment.  Axel Heiberg Island is a polar desert, where cryoturbation is the predominant weathering mechanism.  Iran is a hot desert, with aeolian processes, gravity-driven mass movements, and periodic flashflooding as predominant weathering mechanisms. Different erosion mechanisms may lend to observable differences in surface roughness of the diapirs and surrounding rock units.
3. The diapirs have different compositions.  The salts on Axel Heiberg Island are predominantly anhydrite (CaSO4) weathering to gypsum (CaSO4 * H2O), whereas the salts in Iran are more classic halite rock salt (NaCl). Both salts are soft and soluble, but have different crystal structures which may lend to different radar responses and erosion patterns.

To initiate this change of pace, Catherine has asked me to write a draft proposal for the CSA's SOAR-E program.  RADARSAT-2 images aren't free, so this program let's us pitch our wonderful science ideas to the CSA and request access to their data.  I have not written a proposal before, so this is a slightly intimidating, but beneficial, experience.

Unfortunately there do not appear to be any PALSAR-1 Quad-Pol acquisitions over Iran, so we will not be able perform the same comparison between C-band and L-band for the Iranian diapirs.

PALSAR Hiccups

Hi hi~

Last post, I mentioned that we had acquired (or at least were in the process of acquiring!) quad-polarized images from the Phase Array L-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) on Japan's Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS).  The images have been downloaded, and processing near completed!  I've made multilooked and terrain corrected HH Intensity images and CPR images.

However, there is a bit of a problem.

If you look closely at some of the acquisitions, you can see that there is some kind of image artifact running East-West through some of them.  This artifact does not exist in the raw level 1.1 images, and it only seems to appear after the terrain correction step.

I consulted Mike, an experienced post-doc in the Neish lab research group, about the artifacts and he suggested I start troubleshooting by looking at the DEM I'm using for terrain correction.  This is the also same DEM that I've been using for the RADARSAT-2 images, and I've subsequently noticed the same error in these images as well.  Despite the DEM being a mosiac, there does not appear to be any visible seam in the image which could have caused the trouble.  Catherine thinks there is a misregistration issue, which could be manually resolved if other troubleshooting methods fail.  We might also try terrain correction with a different DEM.

I'm hesitant to report specific CPR data analysis until after this is fixed, but we can make some preliminary observations from what we have.

Salty surfaces are seem to be a little bit rougher in PALSAR's L-band radar than in RADARSAT-2's C-band radar, with salt domes having average CPR values of 0.45 (average CPR of domes - taking the average of the mean CPR for measured salt domes) or 0.51 (average pixel value for all measured salt domes).  In comparison, the RADARSAT-2 has average CPR values of ~0.40 (for both average of domes, and average per pixel).  The difference between CPRs of 0.4-0.5 might not be too significant, but we can at least see that the diapirs are appearing rough over a range of scales.

The average CPR for remobilized salt deposits appears significantly rougher in L-band than C-band. This, however, appears to be attributed to two anomalous deposits. Of 14 measured deposits measured in L-band, two appear to have average CPR > 1, whereas the remaining deposits have a diverse range of averages from 0.14-0.56.  In comparison, salt deposits in C-band show far more constrained average values between 0.23-0.38, with the mean of average deposits (0.28) being closer to mean pixel value (0.26).  This might mean that a few of the deposit areas are not smooth sands as previously interpreted, but are actually filled with cobble-sized clasts that area being noticed at the longer L-band wavelength and not the shorter C-band.  It would be interesting to field check these different deposits to validate this hypothesis.

I'm out of town next week (wooo!  I'm visiting Québec City for the Winter Carnival!) but we will return to this problem once I'm back.

Monday, January 16, 2017

New Year and Fresh Starts

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year!

I'm back at Western after a wonderful winter break with my family in Vancouver.

Some general house-keeping:

In my first week back, I've been doing some general "house keeping" with my data.  I'm getting myself organized by deleting duplicate and unwanted files from awry processing.  I think it is a common problem: if you are trying a new tool in ArcGIS, are processing a new dataset, or input the wrong variable, you get erroneous files. I know that at least for me, these mistakes can sometimes get ignored as I'm too focused on "getting it right", and these can clutter up folders with the good data. I'm getting rid of these, and also making sure everything is labeled so data is easy to find and folders are easy to navigate.

On a tangent, it is also important to make sure you have good "metadata" or data about your data. For the RADARSAT-2 images I'm working with, I make sure to include notes about the number of looks in the azimuth and range directions when doing multilook processing. This lets me know how smoothed over my images are.  The numbers of looks are different depending on the end products. For example, CPR images tend to be very noisy, so I use more looks for CPR images than when I'm performing a Pauli Decomposition. It is important that I, and anyone else who may need to look at my files, know what I did, so I'm working on making a key that explains my data.

At AGU in December, one of the workshops I attended during the Student & Early Career Scientists Conference focused entirely on  "Improving Your Science Through Better Data Management", and I learned a few tricks that I'm starting to implement. Not that you need any convincing, but here is a cute cartoon they shared that further emphasizes why data management is important, especially when you might need to share data with other scientists.


Moving forward - Acquiring PALSAR data:

My data management is being done now to prepare for the incoming of new data!  Yay, new data!

I have recently put in a request to the Alaska Satellite Facility to get data from the Japan Aeronautics Exploration Agency's Advanced Land Observing Salilite (ALOS).  ALOS had an L-band radar, called PALSAR. Like RADARSAT-2, PALSAR also has fully polarimetric capabilities. The two radars have different wavelengths. RADARSAT-2 is a C-band radar, with a wavelength of 5.5 cm, while PALSAR's L-band has a wavelength of 23.6 cm. We can use both datasets together to explore the surface roughness at different scales.  For example, surfaces that look rough in C-band radar may appear rough in L-band radar, and vice versa.  Comparing apparent roughness at different scales from the two different radar instruments can help us constrain the scale of surface roughness of the salt diapirs on Axel Heigberg Island.

I'm a little disappointed that there isn't very much PALSAR quad-pol coverage of our study site in Expedition Fiord, but it does look like at least a couple prominent diapirs are covered, so we will focus on those.

Batch Processing:

It was brought to my attention that I can really speed up radar data processing by implementing "batch processing" i.e., doing multiple images at once.  This will be really useful when the PALSAR data comes in, so I'm testing it out with my RADARSAT-2 images in SNAP.  So far I have not succeeded, but I've only just started playing around and troubleshooting.

Maybe some basic programming will help with that, speaking of which...

Developing computer skills:

One of my colleagues here at Western, Denis Vida, has put together an informal, non-credit Python Immersion course/workshop. My programming abilities are wanting, and if you remember from before I can barely navigate a command line, (barely, but I can!😊) My previous Python experience is limited to completing the Codecademy online course, most of which needs much refreshing. Fortunately, Denis has referred us to a free, online tutorial on computer programming through Udacity that I am going through to get up to speed. Looking through the e-mailing list for the workshop, it looks like I will be in good company with most of my labmates also attending.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016 American Geophyical Union Fall Meeting

Hi hi~

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December.  It was a great experience to meet new people, reconnect with colleagues,attend career development workshops, learn about the cutting edge of geology, geophysics, and planetary science, and have the opportunity to present my own research.

This post may seem lengthy, but I'm also partially writing it as a means to refresh myself with all the events from the conference. The week went past like a whirlwind, and there were a lot of interesting topics I'd like to follow up on.  I hope you're interested, too!

View of the Moscone South building (Poster Hall) from Moscone West (Oral Sessions)


Highlights

Student & Early Career Scientists Conference

I arrived a day early to attend the Student & Early Career Scientist Conference - a daylong series of career development workshops. Only a few weeks prior I had made an offhand comment to my labmate Gavin that I wished there were courses we could take on data management, and making scientific figures. To my delight, this event offered both! Hour long talks included, "Making Figures Talk: Data Visualization for Scientists" and "Improving Your Science Through Better Data Management: Tips and Techniques".  The notes from the data visualization workshop are available online if you're interested. A couple tips I plan on trying are using white instead of black lines on bar graphs to make them sharper, and using partial transparency on scatter plots to see overlapping points. We were also warned that the "rainbow" colour scale, frequently used for raster datasets, has a couple sharp steps that can make it seem like there is a bigger change than their really is. This is something to keep in mind, because we use the rainbow scale for our CPR images.

Exhibitor Hall


Exhibitor's Hall, immediately upon opening

Okay, aside from the ridiculous amounts of swag collected (many new posters are now decorating my apartment) there were a lot of interesting things going on in the Exhibit Hall.  The Google booth hosted many short talks on using remote sensing to monitor and study global environmental issues. Western alumni, Tanya Harrison, had a featured talk on Martian gullies at Arizona State University's booth.

Western alumni, Tanya Harrison, gives a talk on Martian Gullies
I also learned that many Asian institutions are running hiring initiatives to attract foreign early career scientists for new faculty positions.  If you are a post-doc interested in working in Asia, this is your time to shine.

Poster Hall

Tim Haltigin from the Canadian Space Agency presented a well-designed, highly popular poster on the 2016 CanMars mission.  CanMars was a highly successful, collaborative analogue Mars sample return mission that ran mission control operations here at Western last November. I had the pleasure of taking part in the mission as a member of the GIS & Mapping team, and am thoroughly grateful for the opportunity.

Maria's poster and my talk complimented each other really well.  She presented the results from her internship with Dr. Neish over the summer, using thermal infrared spectroscopy to identify and map anhydrite salt exposures on Axel Heiberg Island, NU.  I presented results in which I extracted the zonal statistics for CPR values in the areas she mapped as salt. Unfortunately, her poster presentation was during the time slot of my oral session, so I wasn't able to visit her during poster-time, but I did have the privilege to talk with her about it before and after.

Really cool radar stuff: I roamed through a few really interesting poster sessions that employed polarimetric radar for planetary atmospheres and meteorological studies. In the back of my mind, I was vaguely aware that this was a thing people do, but hadn't previously thought about how it works. Many studies explored the  using different bands of polarimetric radar to estimate precipitation and storm intensity, which is important in risk assessment in coastal nations like Korea (Gu et al. 2016; Lim et al. 2016). One of the studies measured the distribution of raindrop size, which can then be correlated with the storm severity for hazard prevention. Another study uses C and S band radar for distinguishing size of hail particles, which is important in central Europe where hail can be the size of tennis balls (Schmidt et al. 2016).

Not radar, but another session focused on using passive polarimetry as a tool to study planetary bodies, including spaceweathering on the moon (Kim et al. 2016), the surface texture of Europa (Nelson et al. 2016), and even the composition of organics in meteorites (Kobayashi et al. 2016)


Oral Sessions

One of my favourite oral sessions entailed a group of prominent Mars researchers discussing Mars's past as either "cold and dry" or "warm and wet".  I didn't realize that the "cold dry Mars" theory had much footing, but field analogues from Dry Valleys, Antarctica shows that even in very cold dry places there is significant seasonal melting that can form erosional features (Head 2016). Robin Woodsward similarly suggests that early Mars may have been more Titan-like, with a cold, dry climate and episodic melting that can explain fluvial features (Wordswarth 2016).  I had the pleasure of meeting some of the presenters after this session and discussed current advancements in planetary science.

My talk was also quite successful!  Despite being in the last session of the final day, there was a reasonable turn out. I met Dr. Gerald Patterson and Dr. Lynn Carter before the session, and they were both positive and asked insightful questions after my talk. Another gentleman approached me afterwards, asking if we have used any Sentinel-1 data for our student.  We have not, but I mentioned that we are about to request PALSAR data.  The other talks in this session were really interesting, too.  One gentleman from Arceibo gave an overview of how Arecibo is used for planetary exploration (Taylor 2016).  Dr. Carter gave a talk about how they have constructed giant vats of ice and sediments at the Goddard Flight Center to try and simulate data from SHARAD, the shallow ground penetrating radar orbiting Mars (Carter et al. 2016).

Social Events

The NASA hosted Planetary Science division Townhall.  I met Jim Green, and asked about the current relationship and collaborations between NASA and the CSA. Bethany Ehlmann from Caltech was also a speaker at this session. I worked with her during our Arctic field season last summer, and it was great to see her again.

Bethany's career advice for students and early career scientists,
1. Don't give up on your rejected proposals
2. Papers. Papers, papers, papers. Grad students should focus on writing good papers.

Panelists at the NASA Planetary Science Division Townhall meeting
I also attended the Planetary Science meeting/reception, and the earth and planetary surface processes reception. Both events were great for networking. I reconnected with colleagues from LPI, and met sedimentologists from the University of Bristol who introduced me to a few prominent Martian surface scientists.

San Francisco

Of course, I also took time to explore San Francisco!  I had never been to the city before, and was able to have the chance to visit Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39.One of my favourite parts of traveling is trying local food, so I'm happy that I was able to eat some dim sum, sourdough bread, and Ghirardelli chocolate.


Fancy bank in Chinatown
View of Alcatraz prison from Fisherman's Wharf


Golden Gate Bridge as seen from Fisherman's Wharf

SOURDOUGH BREAD FACTORY! YUM!


Overall, I highly recommend the American Geophysical Union Fall Meetings. I had a great time, learned lots, and met a lot of incredible people.  Cheers!