ChemCam studies of a Habitable Environment on Mars

Project Code SRC/2018/JB1
Level PhD
Supervisory Team Prof John Bridges
Expected Duration 3-4 years full time
Expected Start Date 24th September 2018
Closing Date for Applications 12pm Wednesday 31st January 2018

ChemCam on the Curiosity Rover
This selfie of Curiosity shows the ChemCam laser head and telescope on the rover mast. ChemCam has produced over 500,000 laser shots of Gale Crater sediments and igneous rocks to date.
Project Description

Since landing in 2012 Mars Science Laboratory has greatly deepened our knowledge about habitable palaeoenvironments and differentiation of the martian crust.

The University of Leicester and Open University lead a Participating Scientist group on MSL and are part of the ChemCam laser team. You will be based in a vigorous planetary research team at Leicester and the wider MSL team, and use ChemCam and other MSL data to determine the record of water-rock reaction recorded in the Gale Crater sediments. To date ChemCam has produced over 500,000 laser shots, providing an unrivalled dataset of martian sedimentary and igneous rocks.

As Curiosity progresses up Mt Sharp we expect to encounter iron oxide, clay-rich and sulphate-rich terrains which record a changing environment. Igneous float rocks are also revealing new insights about the range of igneous processes on Mars.

We welcome applications from people over a wide range of science backgrounds with an interest in multidisciplinary planetary science and a desire to study mineralogy, geochemistry.


  • J. Frydenvang, P. J. Gasda, J. A. Hurowitz, J. P. Grotzinger, R. C. Wiens, H. E. Newsom, K. S. Edgett, J. Watkins, J. C. Bridges, et al. 2017 Diagenetic silica enrichment and late-stage groundwater activity in Gale crater, Mars. doi/10.1002/2017GL073323/
  • Edwards, P.H., Bridges, J.C., Anderson, R., Dyar, D., Fisk, M., Thompson, L., S.P. Schwenzer, Wiens, R.C. (2017) Basalt-Trachybasalt Samples from Gale Crater, Mars. Meteoritics and Planetary Science. DOI: 10.1111/maps.1295.
  • Bridges J.C., Schwenzer S.P., Leveille R., Westall F., Wiens R.C., Mangold N., Bristow T., Edwards P. and Berger G. 2015 Diagenesis and clay mineral formation at Gale Crater, Mars. J. of Geophysical Research, DOI: 10.1002/2014JE004757
    1. Subject Areas

      • Geochemistry
      • Geology
      • Planetary Science

      Application Instructions

      Gale Crater, Mars
      MSL is exploring Gale Crater on Mars, to determine palaeoenvironments and differentiation of the martian crust.

      When applying, please ensure we have received all of the following required documents by the deadline :

      If we do not have the required documents by the deadline, your application may not be considered for the studentship.


      Funding Status

      This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding.

      Funding for UK students

      Fully funded STFC studentship available.

      Studentship includes tuition fees, stipend and research training support grant.

      The duration of the funding is for 3 year and six months.

      Funding for EU students

      Fully funded STFC studentship available for students who have been normally resident in the UK for the previous 3 years.

      Studentship includes tuition fees, stipend and research training support grant.

      The duration of the funding is for 3 year and six months.

      Fees only studentship is available for EU students who have not normally been resident in the UK.

      Funding for International students

      We currently don't have funding for International students on this project, however, we welcome self-funded students to apply.

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      Contact Details

      Tel.: +44 (0)116 252 3506
      Fax: +44 (0)116 252 2770

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