Understanding the atmosphere of the planet of love: Interview with Brandon Ponder, Ph.D.

Dr. Brandon Ponder recently earned his Ph.D. from the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. He deposited his data set entitled "The Venus Global Ionosphere-Thermosphere Model (V-GITM): A Coupled Thermosphere and Ionosphere Formulation" into Deep Blue Data. This data underlies his dissertation entitled "Energy Balance in Planetary Thermospheres: A Focus on Earth and Venus". In this interview, he describes his research and why he decided to share his data set publicly.  

What prompted you to conduct your research in this area?

Growing up I always found the mystique of the cosmos to be fascinating. Understanding Venus provides valuable insights into planetary evolution and the potential for habitability beyond Earth, contributing to our broader comprehension of the conditions necessary for life in the universe.

For those not familiar with your field, what is the one thing you think is most important, interesting to know, or unique about your work or your findings?

Despite being our closest neighbor, Venus is still rather inaccessible and this limits our understanding of the planet. Building a model of Venus' atmosphere provides us a testbed that can be used to uncover new physics and support upcoming satellite missions to give them their best chance at success. 

How do you hope your data might be encountered or reused out in the world?

There have been two recently selected missions, VERITAS and DAVINCI, which will probe the atmosphere of Venus with new instruments. My hope is that the data in this repository can be directly used during the mission planning for either aerobraking maneuvers or for comparison against the in-situ measurements. 

What is one thing you learned during the process of preparing your data for deposit or sharing? 

Preparing data for public access can be a meticulous process. Ideally, it wouldn't be so much work and the data would be cleaned, formatted and commented, but oftentimes the scope and intricacies of our work make it difficult to get right on the first try. 

Why do you think sharing data is important?

Sharing data is critical for the success of future generations. Related to the previous question, sharing data also prompts us scientists to present our data in a more accessible manner. Data sharing leads to the synthesis of information into a much more digestible format, enabling the next person to build off of.