Calder Patterson Completes Prestigious Lunar and Planetary Summer Internship in Houston

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Calder discusses the progress of his research on determining the geologic history of the Haughton impact crater, Devon Island, Nunavut, with his supervisor Dr. Virgil “Buck” Sharpton, Associate Director for Science at the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Calder Patterson, a third year student in Earth Sciences with a Concentration in Geophysics, has completed a prestigious summer internship with the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI). This organization, located in Houston, is "a research institute that provides support services to NASA". Calder was one of only 12 successful applicants, selected from more than 600 candidates from around the world. Calder was mentored by LPI Associate Director for Science Dr. Virgil L. “Buck" Sharpton to investigate the Haughton Impact Structure where NASA maintains a research station. This 25 km in diameter impact crater on Devon Island, Nunavut, in the Canadian High Arctic is of particular interest to planetary geologists as the cold desert environment is considered to be an analog for ‘wetter’ areas on Mars. Calder’s project involved integrating recent geological/geophysical data and maps to develop a geological history of this feature and determine its specific morphological and structural configuration.

Something that Calder really appreciated about working with Dr. Sharpton was that he was given a high degree of independence to explore the project at his own pace, which permitted him to approach the research creatively. Calder reports that he “had no previous experience in the field of impact cratering, but Buck was always around to point me in the right direction. At the end of the internship, I was very pleased with the outcome of my study and plan to continue to further my research on the Haughton Impact Crater.”

 

Calder was able to meet several astronauts during his internship at Lunar and Planetary Institute including chemical engineer Dr. Don Pettit, a veteran of two long-duration stays aboard the International Space Station and one space shuttle mission (STS-126). 

 

Calder was able to meet several astronauts during his internship at Lunar and Planetary Institute including chemical engineer Dr. Don Pettit, a veteran of two long-duration stays aboard the International Space Station and one space shuttle mission (STS-126).

 

 

 

“Beyond my project, the atmosphere at LPI was extremely friendly and everyone was always willing to help with whatever problems the other interns and I ran into. We were taken on a lot of interesting and exciting tours of the various labs and facilities at the NASA Johnson Space Center. We were also fortunate to be exposed to many top-notch presentations during our weekly Brown Bag Seminars, which covered a wide variety of subjects in planetary and space science. During our 10 weeks at LPI, all of the interns became good friends. I hope to see them time and time again as we continue to advance in our careers.”

This amazing opportunity was a direct outgrowth of a Carleton University Deans Summer Research Internship that Calder held during summer 2015, under the direction of Scientist-in-Residence Dr. Richard Ernst. Dr. Ernst provided Calder with the opportunity to work on a challenging research project where he investigated volcanism on Venus using remote sensing telemetry collected by the Magellan Probe. Dr. Ernst was an outstanding mentor, providing Calder with the opportunity to present his research results at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston this past March. He also encouraged Calder to apply for the LPI Internship. 

 

Calder Patterson (right) examines a slabbed meteorite in the NASA meteorite lab with fellow Lunar and Planentary Institute intern Michael Cato from Western Carolina University, North Carolina. Calder meets Robonaut (R2) during a tour of the NASA robotics laboratory.
Calder Patterson (right) examines a slabbed meteorite in the NASA meteorite lab with fellow Lunar and Planentary Institute intern Michael Cato from Western Carolina University, North Carolina. Calder meets Robonaut (R2) during a tour of the NASA robotics laboratory.