Researchers at ASU and UA are playing a big role in Mars exploration, continuing work that has been going on in Arizona since the dawn of the space program.
An article in the AZ Capitol Times by Oscar Contreras digs into ASU's involvement in Mars exploration in the article "Research, geography position Arizona for role in Mars missions" published Oct. 14.
When the Curiosity Rover collects soil from the surface of Mars, data from the samples will come to an Arizona State University laboratory to be compared with the composition of soil on Earth.
Jack Farmer, a professor of geological sciences, is tasked with looking for carbon compounds and other building blocks suggesting that life once existed on Mars.
Curiosity’s path across Gale Crater is decided in part because of Jim Bell, an ASU professor of planetary science who is on a team of scientists studying images from the rover’s mast camera.
Universities across the country submitted proposals to NASA not just about research to be conducted on missions to Mars but the instruments needed to accomplish it. Both ASU and UA have developed instruments for Mars missions.
“I think it comes down to personnel and history,” said Jim Tyburczy, interim director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. “We’ve have had outstanding scientists from back in the 1960s who have been participants in national planetary exploration programs.”