Planetary Research Facilities

Planetary research at Brown is enhanced by several facilities, three of which are described below. Following completion of a new Geology/Geochemistry building in 1982, renovation of the Lincoln Field Building on the Brown Campus in 1983 provided much needed room to house the expanded program of personnel, data, and facilities comprising a large part of the planetary group. This three-story structure contains faculty, visiting faculty, and graduate student offices as well as classrooms, support staff, work space, and computing facilities. The facilities briefly described below illustrate the breadth of support available to planetary specialists at Brown, and available to Planetary researchers in general.

Northeast Regional Planetary Data Center
The Data Center collection contains a wide range of primary sources including photographic prints, negatives, transparencies, maps, mission support documents, digital media and scientific reference books from the various NASA missions conducted since the inception of the space program. Several workstations are available for processing in ArcGIS, ENVI, IDL and other programs, as well as film and paper scanners and printers including a 42" large format archival printer.

NASA Reflectance Experiment Laboratory (RELAB)
Spectroscopic data acquired in the laboratory provide the interpretive foundation upon which compositional information about unexplored or unsampled planetary surfaces is derived from remotely obtained reflectance spectra. The RELAB facility has been upgraded by the Wm. Keck Foundation and is maintained by NASA as a multi-user spectroscopy facility. Laboratory time can be made available at no charge to investigators who are in funded NASA programs. The RELAB has two operational spectrometers available to NASA scientists: a visible to near-infrared bidirectional spectrometer and a near- and mid- infrared FTIR spectrometer. The overall purpose of the design and operation of the RELAB bidirectional spectrometer is to obtain high precision, high spectral resolution, bidirectional reflectance spectra of earth and planetary materials. One of the key elements of its design is the ability to measure samples using viewing geometries specified by the user. This allows investigators to simulate, under laboratory conditions, reflectance spectra obtained remotely (i.e., with spaceborne, telescopic, and airborne systems) as well as to investigate geometry dependent reflectance properties of geologic materials. The Nicolet 740 FTIR spectrometer supplied by the Keck Foundation has recently become available and normally operates in reflectance mode from 0.8 to 25 m.

Use and scheduling of the RELAB is monitored by a 4-member advisory committee. NASA investigators should direct inquiries to the Science Manager or RELAB Operator . Dr. Ralph E. Milliken, Science Manager (401) 863-2417. Dr. Takahiro Hiroi, RELAB Operations ( (401) 863-3776. Mr. Bill Patterson, Engineer (401) 863-1449.

Petrology Facilities

The opportunity exists to conduct research into petrologic and geochemical processes occurring on planets. The experimental petrology laboratory has 20 furnaces and cold seal pressure vessels capable of being used to 800 Deg. C, an internally heated pressure vessel capable of 10 kb and 1500 Deg. C and rapid quench furnaces for high temperature (to 2700 Deg. C) experiments in controlled gas atmospheres and low pressures. Analytical facilities include a digitally controlled ARL EMX microprobe, an AMR 1000 Scanning Electron Microscope fitted with an energy dispersive analyzer and x-ray equipment. Through and NSF grant and a gift from the Keck Foundation, a new Electron Probe Microanalyzer has been placed into operation. This state-of-the-art instrument permits analysis by energy-dispersive and/or wavelength-dispersive techniques and includes a color monitor and dedicated PDP:-11/73 computer. An NBS-design solid source mass spectrometer with associated preparation and on-line data reduction facilities is available for Rb-Sr, REE and U-Th-Pb studies.

Computing and Image Processing Facilities
A network of computers to support image processing and data analysis is housed in the laboratories of the planetary geology group. These resources allow access to high capacity computing, high speed visual display and interactive software, and a variety of output devices ranging from 35 mm slides to room-size printing capabilities.

(1) A network of twelve Sun workstations including: a SUN-Fire V880 server w/ 8X750Mhz UltraSparc 3 CPU's and 32 Gigbytes of RAM; 5 Sun Blade-150's, each w/ 1Gbyte Ram, and XVR-500 Graphics subsystems; a Sun Blade-2000, w/ 3 Gbyte Ram, UltraSparc3 900 Mhz processor, XVR-1000 Graphics subsystem, and a dual (2x24") LCD display; hundreds of Gigabytes of online storage, and the imminent acquistion of a Terabyte storage subsystem; a fast 100Mbit/sec switched network with fibre optics in place, ready for the next boost in network bandwidth. The V880 may be used as a parallel processor with compiler options or by using OpenMP directives in C and Fortran source codes. Peripherals include 9-track and cartridge tape drives, digitizing tablets, CDROM and CR-RW drives, readwrite optical drives (4.6 GB/disk), 4 mm DAT tape drives, 8mm tape drive, b/w and color printers, and a Hewlett Packard 52" wide format color printer.
More about the unix facilities.

(2) A number of microcomputers, the majority of which are Apple Macintosh computers. The primary computers are 6 PowerPC G3 Macintosh computers with 24-bit large-screen color displays, at least 192 megabytes RAM and 60 gigabytes of online storage. Peripherals include a 4mm tape drive, scanners, film recorder, CD-R drives, Zip drives, and general backup facilities. All are equipped with Photoshop, Canvas, Pagemaker and Office '98.

(3) A VMS cluster consisting of a MicroVAX 3400 and a VAX Alpha workstation, including 4 gigabytes of disk storage, DAT and 9-track tape drives.

(4) Primary data analysis is accomplished using the ISIS and VICAR software developed by JPL, EASI/PACE software package developed by PCI, ENVI for hyperspectral analyses, and the full ARC/INFO software package including ArcView. Additional software has been and is continuing to be developed at Brown to implement new analysis techniques. These systems are integrated with TCP/IP communications networks internally, locally, and across the planet.