Physics Colloquium: NASA’s new Mars Rover Curiosity

Event Details

  • Speaker(s): Ralf Gellert
  • Date:
  • Time: 3:30 PM
  • Location: MacN 101

Abstract

NASA’s new Mars Rover Curiosity launched successfully in November 2011 and is scheduled to land this summer. On board is the new Canadian APXS that will determine the chemicalcomposition of Martian rocks and soils.

The talk will give an overview how Curiosity will investigate the chosen landing site and which role the APXS plays in the concert of the suite of sophisticated instruments to assess the habitability of Mars. The ongoing MER mission where the rover Opportunity just reached a new scientifically very interesting area will be used to show, how rovers and their instruments, like the APXS, worktogether to find the clues hidden in the rocks and soils and how they serve as ground truth for Orbital instruments to draw a global picture of the history of Mars.

Besides the aspects of the tactical day to day operation of the APXS, which will be done in thenearly finished Operations Center, several examples of ongoing long term scientific investigations by Guelph faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students using the MER APXS data will be presented. Noteworthy is that many of the investigations were not foreseen at the time the MERrovers were launched in 2003. These investigations were made possible through the longevity of the rovers and meticulous data analysis combining the knowledge of the instrument and the measuring method, as well as the Physics processes that are at play.