Saturday, July 20, 2024

Canterbury student headed to NASA

A University of Canterbury postgraduate student has been selected by NASA and the New Zealand Space Agency for an internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the United States, supported by a New Zealand Space Scholarship.

UC Science student, Leah Albrow (pictured), is one of five Kiwi postgraduate students selected for a 12-week internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, supported by the government-funded New Zealand Space Scholarship programme.

She will travel to the US to start her internship later this month. Leah is pursuing an honours degree in astronomy at the University of Canterbury. She says she has been captivated by space since visiting the University of Canterbury Mount John Observatory near Lake Tekapo as a child, where she was able to observe New Zealand’s pristine dark skies.

“I am thrilled and very grateful to have been selected for a NASA internship and cannot wait to learn and contribute to the project,” Leah said.

“My goal during this internship is to contribute in a meaningful way, and to learn as much as possible from the experience. I hope to use what I learn to continue pursuing my passion for astrophysics and to make contributions to the field in the future.”

Leah’s internship will see her working on the Exoplanet Watch project. She will be responsible for conducting large-scale data analysis of exoplanet transits collected by students and amateur astronomers, in order to identify new planets or signals of orbital changes of currently known targets.

By combining this data with hundreds of existing datasets, she aims to optimise the use of large telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, by reducing uncertainty around the timings of transit events.

Through her work on the project, Leah hopes to involve more people in astronomical research and contribute to the ongoing search for exoplanets that could support life.

Following the completion of her internship, Leah plans to continue her studies in astronomy and become an astrophysics research scientist.

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