University space scientist to get first glimpse of Martian landscape

Posted by pt91 at Jul 31, 2012 02:35 PM |
A planetary science researcher from the University of Leicester is leading a team of experts analysing some of the first data to be returned by NASA’s latest Mars mission.
University space scientist to get first glimpse of Martian landscape

The landing area for the Curiosity rover. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

The Mars Science Laboratory mission, landing NASA’s most advanced planetary rover called Curiosity, is deploying the most powerful suite of instruments yet sent to the Red Planet.

Dr John Bridges of the University’s Space Research Centre is one of 2 UK Participating Scientists on the mission, and leads a team from the University of Leicester, the Open University and CNRS France. 

Dr Bridges will be at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to witness the landing and start work on subsequent science operations.  He will be talking from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to a free public event at the National Space Centre during the landing time.

He will also be among the first people to study images returned after landing, to determine the conditions associated with the presence of water and assess the past Habitability of Mars for microbial life. The team will focus on determining the conditions associated with the presence of water in past epochs at the landing site.

The rover is scheduled to land at 6.31am UK time on Monday 6 August, beside a Martian mountain within Gale Crater called Mt. Sharp, to begin two years of unprecedented scientific detective work. You can watch Curiosity make its final landing via NASA's video feed.

Dr Bridges will be keeping a blog diary of his work on the project, so check this regularly to keep track of the latest developments from Mars.