Department of Astronomy Center for Radiophysics & Space Research

Jason Hofgartner

Current graduate student in planetary science

Jason Hofgartner is a second year PhD student working with Professors Don Campbell, Jonathan Lunine, and Alex Hayes. He is particularly interested in planetary exploration and is presently involved in studies of Venus and Titan.

Jason is looking for signs of active volcanism on Venus, with Professor Don Campbell and collaborators, by comparing images they took with the Arecibo Observatory and Green Bank Telescope with ones taken in 1988 to search for any changes on the planet's surface that occurred during the 24 intervening years.  

Jason is investigating the origin of near equatorial "specular reflections" that were observed during Arecibo Observatory observations of Titan.  Specular reflections result when RADAR waves reflect from a very flat surface and it was initially thought that the observed specular reflections may have come from hydrocarbon liquids at Titan's surface.  The Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn however hasn't seen liquids in Titan's equatorial regions and the cause of the observed specular reflections is still unknown.  Jason is also studying if Titan's lakes and seas freeze at temperatures that could occur on Titan's surface, and if so whether the solids are positively or negatively buoyant.

Aside from his research, Jason is also taking classes, assisting in teaching an introductory astronomy course (Astro 1101/1103), and coordinating the astronomy department's Planetary Lunch Seminar series.  Outside of his academics, Jason enjoys an active lifestyle that includes that includes spending time with friends, hiking in Ithaca's forests and gorges, rock-climbing, and karate.

Jason was attracted to Cornell for several reasons.  He is very passionate about discovery and exploration and one of his career ambitions is to make significant contributions to our understanding of the universe we live in, it's exploration, and the eventual colonization of other celestial bodies.  Since the planetary science program is apart of the astronomy department at Cornell it was a particularly good match for Jason's avid planetary science interest and physics background.  Jason's favorite part about studying at Cornell so far is the constant exposure to planetary exploration he receives everyday through his courses, seminars, and interactions with others in the Cornell community.

Jason Hofgartner was awarded a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) - Post Graduate Scholarship (PGS) M from 2011 - 2012 and a NSERC PGS D from 2012 - 2015.