Physics graduate student examines tectonic forces on Titan
Casey Cook has always wanted to work in astrophysics and has a goal of eventually becoming an astronaut. She can check off the astrophysics part. At the Student Research Expo, Casey displayed a poster on her research into the physics of large dark scars on the face of Saturn's moon Titan. Called virgae, these scars have a nearly "east-west" orientation near the equator, but tend to more "north-south" closer to the poles. "We're trying to explain why these features are there," she says.
Cook works with UI Physics Professor Jason Barnes, but Geology Professor Simon Kattenhorn also contributes to the project, as do other researchers at the Goddard Space Center and at Brigham Young University. Cook likes the interdisciplinary nature of the investigation, and attends the Geology seminar on campus "just to learn the language.”
Cook did her undergraduate work in Physics at University of La Verne, a small California liberal arts school. Idaho was a good fit for her graduate work because the not-too-large size of the program seemed to fit the profile of what she found worked for her at La Verne. As for her goal of becoming an astronaut, gaining all the education and experience she can is part of getting there.