Summer Opportunities

Planetary Science Summer School

JPL hosts a "summer school" each year where a group of students work with engineers ("Team X") to design a mission. This is an intense experience, and it is highly recommended if you have any interest in being involved in missions. (You might find out you really don't like it! But probably not. wink )

Be prepared to have weekly telecons for the ~10 weeks before the school. You will get the most out of the experience if you dedicate some time during this period to do some background research before you get there. The mission you work on may very well be something you've never studied before, so try to get up to speed on the subject beforehand. There will be no time during the week! Your week at JPL will be incredibly busy, but potentially very rewarding. You will have a role in the mission that may be far outside your previous experience; they emphasize role reversals (scientists <-> engineers). Take the opportunity to learn something new. Have fun!

Note that you will only be reimbursed for 80% of travel expenses, up to some pre-set maximum, so you may want to look for other sources of funding to cover the difference.


Apply in the spring before the summer you want to go (2014 deadline is April 1).

Advice on getting selected:

  • Demonstrate that you will be a future leader in the field: Show that you'll stay in the field and benefit from the experience.
  • Letters of recommendation are important.
  • Attendees are 76% grad students / 20% recent grads or 1st year postdocs. They are a mix of scientists and engineers, but they're short on engineers applying, so if you have any engineering background, you might want to mention that in your application.
  • Early grads are less likely to be selected. If you don't get in, try again, and there's a good chance you'll get in next year. Recently, they implemented a change such that you have to have advanced to candidacy (passed quals/writtens/orals - type stuff) to even be eligible to apply.

Previous LPL attendees:

  • Nancy Chabot
  • Kristin Block
  • Sarah Hörst
  • Zibi Turtle
  • Ralph Lorenz
  • Barb Cohen
  • Serina Diniega
  • Maria Banks
  • Dave Choi
  • Ingrid Daubar
  • Patricio Becerra
  • James Keane
  • Ali Bramson
  • Margaret Landis
  • Jamie Molaro
  • Catherine Elder
  • ...and many others...!

...other summer opportunities...

[add some here!]