Recent Bennington graduate Pratham Joshi did a Research Experience for Undergraduates this past summer at the Space Telescope Institute, working on processing images for the Hubble Space Telescope. Pratham concentrated his Bennington studies on Computing, Astronomy, and Mathematics. Here is what he did in his own words:
For my REU at the Space Telescope Science Institute this summer, I worked on an Image Processing Pipeline for the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). The Hubble Space Telescope is primarily known for its images of far out galaxies (especially the Hubble Deep Field) and the institute has a robust image processing pipeline for this. The problem is that a small subset of Hubble images are solar system images and this pipeline might not be the most well optimized tool for it. I thus worked with my mentor Alex Viana on an image processing pipeline specifically for moving target solar system body images.
The moving target pipeline (which is open source and can be obtained/forked from github here) consists of four major steps: Cosmic Ray rejection, Single Image drizzling, slicing and Image creation. It was written primarily in Python and uses MySQL for database. Different in-house and third-party tools were optimized and automated to connect these into our pipeline. I also did automated testing of the system and used it to generate processed images for various solar system objects. The images obtained from our pipeline will be used for the CosmoQuest Citizen Science Project (the results of which will in turn be used to further optimize our system) as well as be stored in the Hubble archive for use by scientists and researchers. There are also plans to use/extend the pipeline for use with the Hubble cameras as well as the James Webb Space Telescope.