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Brain, David A Associate Professor

Positions

Research Areas research areas

Research

research overview

  • Dr. Brain studies the atmospheres and plasma environments of unmagnetized planets, including Mars, Venus, and exoplanets. Charged particles and magnetic fields from the Sun are believed to have altered the atmospheres of these bodies over solar system history. By studying atmospheric processes that occur today we work to unravel how planets evolve, why their atmospheres can be different from our own, and what makes them habitable. Dr. Brain uses both spacecraft data and computer models in his research. He is currently the Principal Investigator on a NASA-funded team science center working to determine whether habitable planets require magnetic fields. In addition, he is a Deputy Principal Investigator on the NASA MAVEN mission studying the escape of the Martian atmosphere, Deputy Science Lead for the Emirates Mars Mission, and a team lead for NASA's Nexus for Exoplanet System Science. He's involved in three spacecraft missions in development.

keywords

  • planetary plasma environments, planetary atmospheres, unmagnetized planets, atmospheric loss processes, climate evolution

Publications

selected publications

Teaching

courses taught

  • ASTR 3720 - Planets and Their Atmospheres
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020 / Spring 2021
    Explores the physics and chemistry of the atmospheres of Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Titan. Examines evolution of the atmospheres of Earth, Venus, and Mars; and the escape of gases from the Galilean satellites, Titan and Mars; the orbital characteristics of moons, planets, and comets. Uses recent results of space exploration. Elective for APS major and minor. Same as ATOC 3720.
  • ASTR 3750 - Planets, Moons, and Rings
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020
    Approaches the physics of planets, emphasizing their surfaces, satellites, and rings. Topics include formation and evolution of planetary surfaces, history of the terrestrial planets, and dynamics of planetary rings. This course and ASTR 3720 may be taken for credit in any order. Elective for APS major and minor.
  • ASTR 5835 - Seminar in Planetary Science
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020
    Studies current research on a topic in planetary science. Students and faculty give presentations. Subjects may vary each semester. May be repeated up to 4 total credit hours to meet candidacy requirements. Department enforced prerequisite: senior level undergraduate physics. Same as ATOC 5835 and GEOL 5835.
  • ATOC 3720 - Planets and Their Atmospheres
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020
    Explores the physics and chemistry of the atmospheres of Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Titan. Examines evolution of the atmospheres of Earth, Venus, and Mars; and the escape of gases from the Galilean satellites, Titan and Mars; the orbital characteristics of moons, planets, and comets. Uses recent results of space exploration. Elective for APS major and minor. Same as ASTR 3720.
  • FYSM 1000 - First Year Seminar
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Provide first year students with an immersive experience in an interdisciplinary topic that addresses current issues including social, technical and global topics. Taught by faculty from across campus, the course provides students with an opportunity to interact in small classes, have project based learning experiences and gain valuable communication skills. Seminar style classes focused on discussion and projects.
  • GEOL 5835 - Seminar in Planetary Science
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020
    Studies current research on a topic in planetary science. Students and faculty give presentations. Subjects may vary each semester. May be repeated up to 4 total credit hours to meet candidacy requirements. Department enforced prerequisite: senior level undergraduate physics. Same as ATOC 5835 and ASTR 5835.

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