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Open University Scientist to Join Mission to Study Minerals on Red Planet

On 6 August 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) will be landing on the planet. The Open University scientist, Dr Susanne Schwenzer will join a mission in order to study Mars’ chemistry.

Dr. Susanne is part of the research team and working in the physical and environmental sciences team at the university. The research team will learn about the minerals created during the interaction of cold or hot water with the rocks present in Mars.

Dr. Susanne is taking part in this Mars mission, which is being led by Dr John Bridges, the University of Leicester’s Reader in Planetary Science.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission will be deploying a set of powerful instruments, which are yet to be sent to Mars. This mission is landing NASA’s Curiosity, a sophisticated planetary rover. It has been scheduled to land this rover near a Martian mountain within Mt. Sharp, Gale Crater at 6.31 AM UK time on 6 August 2012 to commence extraordinary scientific detective work.

In addition, the advanced set of instruments will be carried by NASA’s Curiosity for scientific studies. The rover will examine some samples extracted from rocks and dug from the soil.

The proof of the geology and climate of the planet is in the chemical composition, formation and structure. The onboard laboratory of the rover will learn about soils, rocks, and the local geologic setting to arrive at a decision whether microbial life is possible in Mars.

Before landing, the MSL spacecraft will significantly slow down its speed of approximately 13,200 mi/hr in order to facilitate the rover to attain roughly 1.7 miles per hour of landing speed.

The landing is a significant milestone and will help in realizing the objective of sending human beings to the Red planet by 2030.

Source: http://www.open.ac.uk/

G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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