Reading the Red Planet

Posted by hct16 at Oct 16, 2012 01:55 PM |
All eyes are on Dr John Bridges – the Leicester scientist analysing the Mars Curiosity Rover’s findings.

The successful landing of Nasa’s Curiosity Rover on Mars has been one of the biggest science stories of the year – and University of Leicester planetary scientist Dr John Bridges has played a central role.

Dr Bridges, who is working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California analysing data sent back from the rover, has been hitting the headlines, with a string of interviews and features on his work with the $2.5 billion project.

The Leicester Mercury reported that the rover has taken its first soil sample from the planet – a key stage in the project’s mission to ascertain whether the planet once supported life. The piece reveals that Dr Bridges has taken a leaf from English naturalist Charles Darwin’s book Volcanic Islands to gain insight into Martian geology.

Last month, the Leicester Mercury published an in-depth feature on Dr Bridges' involvement, which details the kinds of discoveries the team are hoping to take from Curiosity’s readings. Among the many things that Dr Bridges was looking forward to about the project was the chance to get a sense of what the Martian landscape really looks like.

Dr Bridges himself has been providing regular updates on the project on his own blog.