University of Leicester researcher receives funding for Martian science

Posted by pt91 at May 28, 2012 10:29 AM |
UK Space Agency announces award

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 28 May 2012

A University of Leicester scientist has received funding from the UK Space Agency for science associated with Mars exploration.

Dr John Bridges, Reader in Planetary Science in the Space Research Centre, Department of Physics and Astronomy, is involved in research that will help us to understand the Martian environment and to search for traces of past and present life.

Dr Bridges from University of Leicester has been selected by NASA as a Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover mission scientist, and will work with a team that includes Dr Derek Pullan and Dr Ian Hutchinson at Leicester and Dr Susanne Schwenzer, Prof. Simon Kelley from the  Open University, receiving funding for their work from the UK Space Agency. Dr Bridges said of their award from UKSA, “This will allow us to participate in what is, in my view, the most important and exciting robotic landing mission ever attempted to date. MSL has the potential to reveal whether Mars was ever habitable for microbial life and determine if there were standing bodies of water for long periods of time.

“We were selected as Participating Scientists because of the results from our UK-funded research on Martian meteorites and the interaction of water with the Mars crust. We will work to communicate our results about the effects of water at the MSL site to other scientists, but also to wider communities: the Mars research supported by the UK Space Agency has an enduring fascination for many people.”

Bids of an excellent standard were received from a range of scientific disciplines, highlighting the diverse, vibrant nature of the UK’s internationally recognised planetary science community.

Supporting this community will allow for more effective exploitation of the European Space Agency’s Aurora and Science programmes within the UK, helping maintain our world-class science base – a key driver for innovation and economic growth. Searching for signs of life beyond our planet is also one of the major questions of our age, and one which UK scientists are well positioned to address.

Dr Dave Parker, Director of Technology Science and Exploration at the UK Space Agency said "this initiative demonstrates the continuing strength and relevance of UK planetary science. The UK should be proud to have such a dynamic research community and we are delighted to support researchers at the forefront of exploring the Red Planet.

Details of the successful proposals

More info on the research

Ends

For interviews contact:

Dr John Bridges

Reader in Planetary Science

University of Leicester

+44(0)116 252 2007

j.bridges@le.ac.uk

Planetary Materials and Processes — University of Leicester

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