Last year you met SETI planetary geologist Dr. Cynthia Phillips in Exogeology ROCKS! Episode 6. Now, we’ve got a little bonus to go along with the episode: we get to hear from her why Europa rocks, what it’s made of, and why we should go explore it. Dr. Cynthia Phillips really gets into this little world, and you’ll see why.
Posts Tagged ‘exogeologist’
Woo-hoo! I’ve just finished the sixth installment in the Exogeology ROCKS! video series. The first five can be seen here.
In Exogeology ROCKS! Episode 6, we meet Dr. Cynthia Phillips, a planetary geologist for the SETI Institute. She tells us about some interesting worlds in our solar system including Europa, Io, and Mars, how to use images to study them, and much more. I particularly like her stories about her funniest and most exciting experiences as a planetary geologist.
Exogeology ROCKS! Episode 3 is now complete. Woo hoo! That’s three episodes of my Exogeology ROCKS! series done. Episode 3 features an interview with Pan Conrad, a NASA astrobiologist at JPL.
You can watch Exogeology ROCKS! Episode 3 on YouTube. It’s in two parts, so make sure to watch both part one and part two. Episode 3 will soon be up on Exogeology ROCKS! in the Meet Real Exogeologists section.
If you haven’t seen the first two yet, you can watch them here on my website, as well as a bonus track for Episode 1.
Exogeology ROCKS! Episode 2 is finally finished! This is the second episode of my Exogeology ROCKS! series. In Exogeology ROCKS! Episode 2, I interview Joy Crisp, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It sure ROCKED going to JPL and meeting a real exogeologist!
You can see Exogeology ROCKS! Episode 2 here on my website, in the Exogeology ROCKS! Episodes/ Meet Real Exogeologists section.
Keep checking up on Exogeology ROCKS! and be on the lookout for Episode 3. I’m Zoë Bentley and Exogeology ROCKS!
Good question! This page explains the basic concept of exogeology. Look at it first, so you can better understand the rest of the site.
What is the Exogeology ROCKS! website all about? I’ve explained here why I made the website, what there is to do on it, and a bit about myself.
This is the best part! I made a 20 minute episode of Exogeology ROCKS!, and a 3 minute bonus track on Pluto. Don’t miss either one! Episode One of Exogeology ROCKS! features an interview with a planetary astronomer, Dr. Larry Lebofsky from Tucson, Arizona, and was made to show that exogeology really does ROCK!
After watching Exogeology ROCKS!, I bet you’ll want to know how to become an exogeologist yourself. I’ve created this page to show you how to do just that.
Want to know more about what life is like for a real exogeologist? Read Petra’s Blog, a blog written by me as the fictional exogeologist Petra Stone. Petra writes about her favorite experiences in exogeology, and exogeology in general. There are tons of posts with lots of information, so go to Petra’s Blog and start reading!
Play a crossword puzzle, search in a crossword puzzle, and solve online jigsaw puzzles in this fun category.
There are a wide variety of things you’ll see on the job as an exogeologist. Each set of photographs in the gallery shows you some of those, along with a short description about what you see. Have fun looking around, because these photos ROCK!
Have you read everything on Exogeology ROCKS! and you want to find out more? Here are some great links to get you started.
If you have any suggestions about how to improve my site, add more info, or make it more fun, use the “Contact Me” form to send me your reviews.
You can get to any of these pages from the sidebar on the right hand side of the page. I’ve put a lot of effort into this, so don’t miss out! There are lots of rockin’ things to do!
Until next time, I’m Zoë Bentley, and Exogeology ROCKS!
If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll already know me a bit. But I want to give you a better idea of what I’m like. For starters, I’m Petra Stone, an exogeologist. I love geology and astronomy, but I also love writing and traveling. The following are some questions that I’m often asked by people:
What are you currently working on?
- I’m currently in Iceland working and studying glacial formations. This is research for the Mars mission I’m working on which is going to Mars’ north pole.
What is your favorite planet?
- My favorite planet is Mars, because I think the geology is fascinating.
What is your favorite color?
- Purple, of course! That’s why the planet on this website is purple!
What is the best project you have worked on?
- My favorite projects to work on have included: identifying Martian rocks, using relative dating on alien formations, and traveling to far-off locations around Earth. I’ve never been off of Earth, but I’m sure it would an amazing experience. I’ve worked with several astronauts here at NASA who have been off-world and they’ve told me some fantastic stories.
What things do you like to do (what are your hobbies)?
- Other than my job, some of my hobbies are reading, jewelry making (I bead memory wire bracelets usually), rock collecting (I have a huge collection with geodes, and jasper, and malachite, oh my!), stargazing and learning the myths behind the constellations, and of course, writing this blog! I like finding unique arts and crafts projects too, that can be really fun. I also love hiking. I love getting a great view of the area, and it gives me a chance to look at the rocks.
- Another interest of mine is photography. I can never get my regular camera to take great objects like the moon, but it’s fun to get photographs of other things. I’ve taken photos of places I’ve been, things I’ve seen, and whatever I want to keep a record of or I just think looks cool. It can come in handy to be a fairly good photographer when you’re classifying rock samples (I use several special cameras for my job), but what really ROCKS is when I have the opportunity to take photographs through a telescope. Telescopes at observatories have great cameras for visible and non-visible light! I could never get photographs like those with my own camera. To see some samples of these, be sure to check out the NASA image gallery!
What is your favorite movie and/or television show?
- I like science fiction movies and TV shows best, but I also like mystery shows. I like non-fiction TV shows too, but I often find long documentaries too long–I prefer shows to have a fictional storyline if they’re going to be really long. The exception to this is The Elegant Universe. If you’ve ever been interested in physics, that show will get you even more interested! Seeing that for the first time really piqued my interest in string theory and m-theory.
- My favorite TV shows are The Universe, Doctor Who, and, of course, Star Trek (all series, but Voyager is my favorite).
What are your favorite books?
- Books I like are usually fantasy, not science fiction. I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson series, the Magyk series, and similar types of novels. I also really enjoy reading non-fiction science, especially if it has to do with time travel! I read magazines, technical periodicals, as well as the latest papers that my colleagues publish.
Do you enjoy writing?
- I absolutely love writing! I spend most of my time writing papers about geology and exogeology (since those are the topics I know best and they are what I spend most of my time researching), but every once in a while I’ll take an interest in other topics and feel like I just have to share my findings with the world!
- I occasionally even write haiku! Here are two examples:
Twinkling balls of light
So many lightyears away
Rocky Mars landscape
Red mesa towers above
As you can see, there’s a lot more going in my life than just my job. However, exogeology just happens to be what I like most, and a lot of the things I like are somehow related (ultimately everything seems to be related if you think about it enough). That’s just what I like! It’s why I became an exogeologist.
Whenever I try to tell anyone what my job title is, nobody understands! I got so frustrated when I went to a geology conference and everybody kept asking me what my sign was! That’s not what I do! I’m pretty sure I’m a Virgo, but I have no idea what that means! The same thing happens when I meet astronomers. They keep assuming that I know stuff like the capital of Nebraska. I am not an astrologer and not a geographer, I’m an astronomer who is also a geologist.
Sometimes people just slip up even when they do know the difference. I had a pretty funny conversation with my grandparents when I tried to explain my job. Here’s pretty much how it went:
Grandpa: “I heard you’re an astronaut now, Petra. That sounds exciting.”
Me: “No, Grandpa. I’m not an astronaut at all, I’m an exogeologist.”
Grandma: “You’re an ex-geologist? I thought you just started this job, whatever it is. What are you doing now?”
Me: “Ex-o. Ex-o-geology is the geology of other planets.”
Grandpa: “Oh, geography!”
Grandma: “Have you made many maps dear?”
Me: “No, not geography. And mapmaking is called cartography.”
Grandpa: “Cartography? I’ve always wanted to draw cartoons. Can you draw Pluto?”
Me: “Grandpa, I’m not a cartoon artist. How’d we even get on that subject? I study things like volcanoes and craters. Geology. And I haven’t tried to draw Pluto. But there’s this spacecraft that’s headed to…oh, that Pluto.”
Grandma: “Oh, geometry, with the shapes!”
Me: “That’s mathematics, Grandma. I’m an exogeologist. That’s a combination of geology and astronomy. I look at space rocks.”
Grandma: “Like the astronauts got from the moon?”
Me: “Yes! Exactly!”
Grandpa: “That sounds fun.”
Me: “Yes, it ROCKS!”
Grandma: “So when will you be going to the moon?”
I hope this helps you to tell the differences between exogeology and completely different jobs. My grandparents finally understood after that long conversation, and I can usually get people to at least say it right. People who just haven’t heard of exogeology, or even geology or astronomy, are just part of the job. I can’t blame them really, although it is annoying. For now, I’m Petra Stone signing off. Exogeology ROCKS!
Want to know just what an exogeologist does all day? Well, maybe I can show you just how cool this job is!
When I start working for the day, the first thing I do is see if I’ve received any new data. This could be from other exogeologists or from different spacecraft. I sometimes even get rock samples to analyze. If I do, I’ll take them to the lab. There I’ll test the sample to find out its composition.
There are lots of tests I can do. I can test minerals for streak, hardness, cleavage or fracture, and of course note the color and shape of the crystals. For example, let’s say I was given a mineral sample to identify. It has cube-shaped crystals, and is gold in color. I rub it on a streak plate, and the streak is greenish black. I’ll scratch it with various tools and deduce that its Mohs hardness is 6. When I break it with a hammer, the place where it breaks is conchoidal (a distinctive curved shape). All these things put together tell me that my mineral is pyrite. If I were given a rock sample, there are a lot of various tests I could do to classify a rock, like cutting a thin slice and looking at it under a microscope.
- Here’s a quick tip about classifying rocks: If it has bubbles, it’s got to be igneous. Those bubbles are called vesicles, and they’re made when gas bubbles are trapped inside a rock as it cools.
Some days I’ll go to an observatory to do research on a planet. I need to reserve the telescope ahead of time usually. When I used a telescope at the Kitt Peak observatory, I had to reserve the telescope years in advance! But it was worth it. I got some great photographs of Jupiter and a comet during my time at the telescope. I’ve used lots of different observatories, and it’s always been productive. Well, except for that one time when it rained… I had to cancel. I must have been really unlucky that time. But that’s the trouble with astronomy; sometimes you just have to wait for another clear night. At least every other time went well.
Other days I’ll get information from a spacecraft or lander! That’s my favorite part! Once, I got to help with the LCROSS mission and interpret data from the spectrometer. The goal was to find water, and we did! That ROCKS! Since Mars is my specialty, I’ve been receiving data from the Mars Odyssey orbiter, which maps the amount of chemical elements and their distribution. I loved working on that. Maybe I’ll get to interpret data from the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). Part of the MSL’s mission will be to study the geology of Mars.
Well, I’ve always been an exogeologist really, it just wasn’t my job title until now.
I’ve always been interested in geology. When I was little some of my favorite books were about volcanoes, and I started a rock collection. As I got older I learned to recognize a lot of different minerals and rocks. I just loved learning about different kinds of lava and eruptions, and about which rocks were quartz and which were pyrite. As I got older I got more books, and my rock collection grew. I read about geology as much as I could. I had a lot of other interests along the way, and I’d focus on that for a while, but geology was always an interest of mine, even if it wasn’t the focus of my life.
I also watched a lot of episodes of NOVA and The Universe. I’ve also always liked space, but never as much as rocks. I mean, lots of kids want to be an astronaut at some point, or an astronomer, or something like that. Space is just too cool not to! Or at least that’s my opinion. I lived in a great place for both geology and astronomy (Tucson AZ), and just for fun my family visited places like the Kitt Peak and Whipple observatories.
At age 13, I started taking college classes at the local community college. By then I knew all about how geology could be used for things like analyzing moon rocks, and finding volcanoes on other planets. I thought it was really cool that Earth wasn’t the only planet to have geology! And of course, I wanted to learn more. I first took a geology class, because geology was my passion. The very last part of that class was about exogeology. And it was by far the best part. I got to see a picture of a hypothetical planet; I figured out what caused different landforms and how to use relative dating. I also got to look at craters on Earth. I later took an astronomy class, because I wanted to learn more about exogeology, but I didn’t know as much about the astronomy aspect. I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I was hooked, I wanted to be an exogeologist.
I then took more exogeology-related classes, which were mostly just geology or astronomy, one or the other, but they were all really interesting and I learned a lot. A few years ago I started working for NASA as an exogeologist. I’ve done all kinds of neat things since then, but my favorite is figuring out just what caused different formations (especially on Mars, that’s my specialty), like the Valles Marineris, or just rock strata. I love my job! I hope you’ll have just as much fun exploring exogeology as I do!
Hi, this is Petra Stone. I am a fictional character whose posts are written by Zoë Bentley. I’m here to tell you about what I do as an exogeologist. Look for for more posts soon!
Here on Exogeology.info you will find information on what exogeology is, how to become an exogeologist, interviews of various scientists in the field, games and puzzles, a fictional exogeologist’s blog, a photo gallery, and much more!
I started this website as part of the NASA No Boundaries Contest, but plan to let it grow as I learn more about the topics.