Heather Chilton

Planetary geomorphologist in training with a particular emphasis on ice-interactions, remote sensing techniques, and integrating multiple datasets and methods to gain a both a large-scale conceptual and fine-scale quantitative understanding of processes controlling icy and ice-related landforms on bodies throughout the solar system.
My primary work for my PhD analyzes landslides on dwarf planet Ceres in the main asteroid belt. Through image processing and analysis, I utilize Dawn framing camera (FC) images and derived topographic datasets to investigate landslides as a window into the top few kilometers, a sweet spot between large scale modeling and shallow spectral and elemental detections. Geometric measurements for estimated friction coefficients allow us to constrain materials controlling landslide transportation, while power law relationship of the landslide failure via the scar area and scar volume elucidate shear-strength structure deeper into the subsurface. Combined with geomorphological interpretations and refining constraints on surface composition from both the visible and infrared spectrometer (VIR) and gamma ray and neutron detector (GRaND), I am working to build a general, comprehensive picture of the subsurface and address local variations. I am looking to incorporate a stronger statistical component and expand the current methods used on Ceres to landslides on other planetary bodies.
Prior research includes analysis of limb topography on ridges on Enceladus, simple thermodynamic modeling of Enceladus’ south polar tiger stripe vents through low temperature ice, and simple plume modeling for Enceladus and Europa, fading rates of Martian dark slope streaks, and astronomy education studies. In 2017 I participated in the JPL Planetary Science Summer School helping design a mission to Uranus. I have also spent time engaging in public outreach, having been involved with the Dawn Communications and Public Outreach team, a local chapter of the Planetary Society, Atlanta’s annual Science Festival, teach quality programs, and more.
Link to CV

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