Studying Heavy Metal on Venus




Sara Port, a space and planetary sciences doctoral student, has earned multiple fellowships to study Venus' atmosphere and environmental conditions. Read Sara's story.

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Sara Port, a space and planetary sciences doctoral student, has earned a National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes internship and a Sturgis International Fellowship to conduct research at Japan's Okayama University this summer.

"Receiving these fellowships is a great accomplishment for Sara, and it brings great credit to the university's Space Center and the space and planetary sciences interdisciplinary doctoral program," said John Dixon, the program's director.

As part of her dissertation research, Port is studying the formation of metal frost on Venus. Researchers know something resembling snow is atop Venus' mountains. However, the planet is far too hot for the substance to be composed of water. Port and other researchers are conducting studies to determine if the frost-like substance is made of metallic compounds.

Since going to Venus isn't exactly feasible, Port works with a chamber at the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences that simulates the planet's environment. Port's research at the University of Arkansas is supported by a Doctoral Academy Fellowship, a Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship and a NASA Solar System Workings grant.

While at Okayama University, Port will work with George Hashimoto, a researcher and associate professor at the university, to develop computer models of Venus' atmosphere. The pair aims to discover if the planet recently underwent a climate change, which resulted in the metal frost.

Port, a native of New York, completed her undergraduate degree at Stony Brook University. She is advised by Vincent Chevrier and is on-track to complete her doctoral degree in 2018.