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Samuel Courville

swcourville's picture

Research Associate

Currently resides in Tempe, AZ
swcourville [at]
Areas of Expertise
Targets: Asteroids, Mars, Moon
Disciplines/Techniques: Field Work, Gravity, Numerical modeling, Radar

Research Interests

I am a planetary geophysicist who studies the interior and shallow subsurface of the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. My primary goal is to increase our understanding of planetary and asteroid formation, and to identify planetary resources that can be exploited for future human exploration missions. 

Currently at PSI, I research numerical modeling of radar waves that propagate into the Martian subsurface. The comparison of numerical models with real data collected by the Mar's Reconnaissance Orbiter's SHARAD instrument allows us to identify subsurface water ice and lava tubes, which are valuable targets for science and future human exploration. Additionally, I am designing active source seismology systems for the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. Active source seismology is the primary geophysical tool to interrogate the subsurface of the Earth, but it has only rarely been applied on other planetary bodies. I hope to change that in my future career. 

Professional History

2019- Planetary Science Institute, Research Assistant: 
Numerical modeling for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's SHARAD instrument. Instrument concept and design studies for an active source seismic acquisition system on Mars and the Moon.

2017-2019, Colorado School of Mines, Center for Wave Phenomena, Research Assistant:
Studying the application of laser Doppler vibrometry to detect seismic signals remotely on asteroid and planetary surfaces from orbit.

2017, Lunar and Planetary Institute Summer Intern:
Determined the density of Schrodinger Basin’s peak ring of mountains on the Moon using GRAIL gravity data.

2016, NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics Undergraduate Research Program Summer Intern:
Studied the thermal inertia of 171 dune fields on Mars in search of water ice using thermal emission spectrometer data from the Mars Odyssey Mission.

2014-2017, BS in Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines:
Senior Thesis: Autonomous Roving Exploration System, a Mars active source seismic acquisition concept.

Honors and Awards

2019: Lunar and Planetary Institute Career Development Award

2018: Travel Award to the Workshop in Geology and Geophysics of the Solar System in Petnica, Serbia

2017: Colorado School of Mines Outstanding Graduating Senior

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