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Lassonde grad to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Lassonde PhD student Athina Peidou is heading off to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where she will be doing innovative work on the GRACE and GRACE Follow-on missions.

NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) launched in March of 2002. The mission studies gravity variations in Earth such as changes to surface and bottom of the ocean and ground water storage on land masses. Athina’s work will focus on developing strategies and methodologies for new gravitational models for the Earth.

Athina is positioned well in this research group, having recently worked on a systematic problem present in the gravity field models. You can read more about her work in a previously published article here, which details how Athina and the team discovered that when the orbit of a mission follows an interlaced pattern while sampling the Earth gravitational signal, stripes are created on the gravity field maps.

The gravity field maps derived from satellite measurements are obscured by very disturbing thick lines sweeping from south to north, partially masking useful information. Identifying this pattern was challenging and constitutes a breakthrough, which may eventually lead to removing the stripes altogether, providing more fulsome data for researchers. Athina will continue working on the uncertainties of the global gravity field models at JPL/NASA.

“This opportunity opens the avenues to collaborate with the top field scientists in my discipline. Now, I get to collaborate with scientists whose work I studied as a PhD student, and develop with them new methodologies for the advancements of the field,” says Peidou.