Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MHC's Dyar Receives NASA Grant for Mars Exploration

18.09.2009
Mount Holyoke College's associate professor of astronomy Darby Dyar has just gotten a big boost for her work: a $689,000 grant from the Mars Fundamental Research Program at NASA for a project titled "Technique Development for Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy: Calibration, Classification, and Light Element Analysis."

"I'm incredibly excited about this," said Dyar, who will share a portion of the grant with the Los Alamos National Laboratory. "Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is a great new elemental analysis technique that will be one of the instruments in the 'payload'--that is, on board--the next Mars lander, which is called Mars Science Laboratory."

The Mars Science Lab is a rover that will launch in 2011 and land on Mars in 2012 to assess whether the planet is now or ever was capable of supporting microbial life. It is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term project involving robotic exploration of the red planet. The rover will carry the largest, most advanced instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the Martian surface; in addition to evaluating if the planet could support life, instruments will characterize the climate and the geology of Mars.

The grant will be used to help calibrate the ChemCam instrument on the lander, said Dyar.

According to the Mars Science Lab Web site, "Looking at rocks and soils from a distance, ChemCam will fire a laser and analyze the elemental composition of vaporized materials from areas smaller than one millimeter on the surface of Martian rocks and soils. An on-board spectrograph will provide unprecedented detail about minerals and microstructures in rocks by measuring the composition of the resulting plasma--an extremely hot gas made of free-floating ions and electrons.

"ChemCam will also use the laser to clear away dust from Martian rocks and a remote camera to acquire extremely detailed images. The camera can resolve features five to ten times smaller than those visible with cameras on NASA's two Mars Exploration Rovers that began exploring the red planet in January 2004. In the event the Mars Science Laboratory rover can't reach a rock or outcrop of interest, ChemCam will have the capability to analyze it from a distance."

Dyar's grant will also provide funding to purchase a LIBS unit that will be located on the Mount Holyoke College campus; it is currently being built at Los Alamos.

Students from Mount Holyoke and the Five College Astronomy Department – part of the Five College consortium program offered by Mount Holyoke, Smith, Amherst and Hampshire Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst – will also be involved in work related to the Mars Science Laboratory project.

For more info:

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/news/channels/22/stories/5681508

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/misc/profile/mdyar.shtml

http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

Mary Jo Curtis | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.mtholyoke.edu

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent

25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>