Lunar and Planetary Science Institute and NASA offer an amazing opportunity to explore the world of space and planetary science. The institute is located in Houston, US, and its area of research includes the formation and evolution of the Solar System, geology of the planets including volcanism, and impact cratering. LPI runs a summer intern program open also to non-US citizens.
Together with 11 other students I got to take part in this program. Half of us, myself included, worked at LPI using various computer programs and half at NASA doing more laboratory work. Each of us had our own project to work on and each was supervised by LPI and NASA scientist/s. My project was to analyze rayed craters on Mercury and Ganymede to compare the cratering processes in the inner and outer solar system. In order to do this I was taught how to use ArcGIS's CraterTool, QuickMap and Interactive Data Language. Half a year later I could present my results at Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
Outside of our normal work we had an opportunity to attend several seminars and meet many visiting scientist. LPI also organized trips to NASA facilities where we were able to see meteorites, stardust, HERA habitat and much more.
This is a paid internship. Once accepted, LPI takes care of everything. They organize flights and housing, help with visa, and cover all your living costs. We were housed in a university village within walking distance to the institute. It had a swimming pool (very useful during hot Texas summer), a BBQ area and sport fields. The shops were around 2km away but few of the interns had cars so food shopping was not a problem (I often just walked). LPI staff was very helpful and friendly. More than once they included us in their social activities such as movie nights, karaoke and role-plays.
How to arrange
The application deadline is usually sometime in January. The process requires a lot of work. You apply online through their website and you must write four essays: your biographical sketch; your experience; your academic goals, plans for future and interests; and why are you applying. These are important as there is no list of project available to you, but the scientist based on these essays pick whoever they think fits to their current project best. You will also be asked to provide three reference letters, a prove of your English level and your transcript of records.