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

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>