Wednesday, October 24, 2012

University of Guelph’s Mars Research In the News

GUELPH Ontario October 23, 2012 - University of Guelph In the News

University of Guelph physics professors and researchers are making headlines again with their research on the Red Planet.

The work by professors Ralf Gellert and Iain Campbell and research associate Nick Boyd was featured on Global National news Monday night during the station’s live broadcast from the University of Guelph. (Watch the video here; scroll to 20:50 in newscast).

Global also issued an online news story about the Mars research.

In addition, Boyd, the operations lead for the mission, is featured today in Metro, a Toronto daily newspaper. The Picton native is a Guelph physics grad, a research associate in the department, and is finishing a master’s degree in the School of Engineering.

Gellert, Campbell and Boyd are part of an international group of scientists that developed the new alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) that is mounted on the arm of Curiosity, a minivan-sized rover that is roaming around Mars.

The APXS is Canada’s contribution to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. About the size of a soda pop can, it will measure exactly which chemical elements — and how much of each type — are in Martian rock or soil. Scientists hope it will tell us about changes in soil and rock on Mars, and provide clues about the planet’s suitability for life.

During the mission, the Guelph team will support the APXS operations and send instructions for operating the device on the rover. The team will work in a specially equipped room in the MacNaughton Building.

Gellert headed the international team that developed the APXS. Since 2005, he has been the lead scientist for the APXS systems that were mounted on NASA’s twin Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) that landed on the red planet in 2004 and later detected evidence of water.

Besides Gellert, Campbell and Boyd the team includes graduate students Glynis Perrett and Scott van Bommel, and post-doc Irina Pradler.

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