JPL Summer Fellowship deadline extended to Dec. 15

JPL Summer Fellowship deadline extended to Dec. 15
Atlanta, GA

Georgia Tech faculty looking for a unique opportunity to connect with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are invited to submit proposals for the 2015 JPL Summer Fellowship. The deadline has been extended to December 15 at 5 p.m.

Georgia Tech faculty looking for a unique opportunity to connect with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are invited to submit proposals for the 2015 JPL Summer Fellowship. The deadline has been extended to December 15 at 5 p.m.

This is the second year that Georgia Tech's Center for Space Technology and Research (C-STAR)  has worked with JPL to provide the fellowships, which support collaborative research opportunities between the two institutions. C-STAR anticipates awarding 3-5 fellowships for the summer semester.

Last year, three GT-AE faculty, Brian Gunter, Dave Spencer, and Panagiotis Tsiotras, used the fellowship to launch projects. All three returned with valuable perspective on their current and future research.

"The intellectual environment at JPL is superb and there are many challenging and stimulating problems to work on." said Tsiotras. "I would love to return every year."

Applicants for the 2015 Fellowships should outline a specific research project, including possible research partners. There is no stated stated monetary limit on the fellowships; the awards vary according to the demands of the specific project. Find out more about this opportunity here.

Submissions should be sent to

Check out the experience of last year's JPL Fellows:

 Prof. David Spencer

Prof. David Spencer

At Georgia Tech, Dave Spencer has been immersed in the launch of Prox-1, a Georgia Tech-designed spacecraft, and an attached CubeSat that are part of the multi-satellite payload being launched by the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket project sometime in the next 15 months.

At JPL, Spencer expanded on his research interests, working with Joe Parrish and Tom Komarek in the Mars Exploration Program formulation office  to develop two mission concepts for potential small satellite collaborations.

"The first was a Mars telecommunications relay CubeSat constellation, The second was a low-Earth orbit demonstration of orbiting sample canister search and rendezvous, in support of Mars Sample Return," he said.

"In addition, Brian Gunter and I spoke with Peter Kahn about developing a deep space CubeSat deployer capability involving JPL, Cal Poly and Georgia Tech. We proposed that Georgia Tech be responsible for system engineering and the electrical subsystem. Cal Poly would be responsible for the mechanical subsystem."

Kahn was impressed with the concept and is currently looking for funding sources.

Prof. Brian Gunter




Prof. Gunter  got a valuable opportunity to dive into a mission concept involving a constellation of nano-satellites to measure the Earth's time-variable gravity. He worked alongside JPL's Dr. Mike Watkins and Dr. David Wiese, both of whom are heavily involved with the current GRACE and upcoming GRACE Follow-On missions.

"The feasibility of the approach had already been developed in previous studies, but these were mostly based on simulations," he said.

Gunter's collaborators were able to explore how their work might complement GRACE and the upcoming GRACE Follow-On mission.

"We developed a list of high-priority systems to be investigated in the near future, including a compact ranging system, validation of precise positioning from a COTS GNSS receiver, and an assessment of the MEMS IMU. A number of numerical simulation studies were also identified to better quantify the scientific return that the constellations might provide."

The fellowship also sowed seeds for future collaborations.

"My time at JPL allowed me to get to know many other people working on related projects, such as planetary mission design and other cubesat missions. These contacts were extremely valuable and should lead to many new efforts going forward. Work on a joint paper is already underway. I hope to make a summer trip to Pasadena an annual event to build on these relationships and to set up internships and research projects for my students."


Prof. Panagiotis Tsiotras




Dr. Tsiotras spent four weeks working with Dr. Marco Quadrelli and others at JPL's  Robotics and Mobility Systems Section (Autonomous Systems Division).

"We pursued a problem of common interest -- related to the coordinated path-planning of multiple ground vehicles in a crater and/or cave while maintaining line-of-sight," said Tsiotras.

"The problem is of immediate interest to the Transformers for Extreme Environments concept, which has been promoted by several JPL researchers, including  Adrian Stoica (PI) and Marco Quadrelli."

According to this concept, robotic systems can project the resources/energy needed to induce a favorable microenvironment at the locale where exploration takes place and make exploration in extreme environments (below the surface of the planet or in areas that are permanently dark and cold) possible. The realization of the project depends on the availability of teams of mobile robots capable of (multi-hop) energy projection while maintaining communication with each other and operating far away from their base station.

Tsiotras is excited about sustaining and enhancing his collaboration with colleagues at JPL.

"I realized that many aspects of my research were of interest to JPL. As a matter of fact, during my stay at JPL I  met with several individuals who expressed an interest for possible collaboration. I was invited to give two seminars on my research."