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  • Suniti

    Chat Information:
    Live online chat with Suniti Karunatillake, a doctoral candidate at Cornell University.

    Date: Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    10:00 - 11:00 AM Alaska Time
    11:00 AM - Noon Pacific Time
    Noon - 1:00 PM Mountain Time
    1:00 - 2:00 PM Central Time
    2:00 - 3:00 PM Eastern Time

    Suniti Karunatillake's Biography:
    Suniti Karunatillake is enrolled in the Department of Physics at Cornell University as a doctoral candidate. However, the call of the planets, instilled in childhood by Carl Sagan's documentaries and Arthur C. Clarke's novels, was too strong to keep him anchored there. Suniti is learning to become a planetary explorer under the guidance of Steve Squyres. He reviews data from the Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer and the Mars Exploration Rovers for his thesis project on Martian surface geochemistry. He often relies on the synergy of numerous remote sensing and surface missions to realize the story of Mars. Suniti is completing a project on several chemically unusual regions on the planet and intends to graduate shortly thereafter. Suniti attended Wabash College to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree in physics and then to Cornell University to receive his Master of Science degree in Physics. In 2005 Suniti received national recognition for excellence in space research by NASA.

    Suniti's interests include modeling geochemical processes on Mars and other planets with remote sensing data, in situ data, and terrestrial analogs. Ultimately he wishes to apply his knowledge of planetary surfaces in the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Through mentorship and public outreach, he said he hopes to inspire others to participate in planetary exploration and to help establish the next generation of planetary explorers.

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