05 Jan TIP/UW Scientists Provide Mars Rover Commentary
The robotic rover Spirit, which bounced to a near pinpoint landing inside a 4-billion-year-old Martian crater on Saturday (Jan. 3) after a seven-month flight, promises a trove of new data about the Red Planet, UW-Madison scientists say.
John Valley, a UW-Madison professor of geology and geophysics who has conducted isotopic analyses of meteorites believed to be from Mars, expects the latest mission to add considerably to our knowledge of Mars and whether or not the planet once had an abundance of water that could have harbored some forms of life. The rover’s mission is to sample the planet’s rocks and sediments for clues to Mars’ geologic history. Equipped with two camera systems, a package of advanced analytical instruments, magnets, and a scraper called RAT (rock abrasion tool), Spirit will be able to analyze samples from slightly below the Martian surface, samples that may hold insights that escaped earlier detection by the rover Sojourner in 1997.
Sanjay Limaye, a planetary scientist at UW-Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center, says the latest “invasions of Mars” should help answer some of the key questions scientists have long been asking about the Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor.
In addition, Limaye will give a public lecture about Mars and the latest missions to the planet on Friday, Jan. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at UW-Madison’s Space Place, 1605 S. Park St. The lecture is sponsored by the Madison Astronomical Society.
For more information, contact John Valley at (608) 263-5659, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Sanjay Limaye at (608) 262-9541, email@example.com
Terry Devitt from UW Communications can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.