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The Scientists Behind the
Science on Mars

Meet the spectroscopists working on the NASA
rover missions to Mars.

MARS MISSION 2020

 

MARS & PERSEVERANCE

MARS emanates a sense of adventure and promise, capturing the imagination and interest of scientists and explorers from all over the world. Although no human has ever set foot on this red planet, it has been a destination successfully reached by human-engineered spacecrafts and rovers. The latest rover by NASA is the SUV-sized Perseverance, which touched down on Mar’s Jezero Crater on February 18th, 2021. Its mission: analyze rocks and soil on Mars and collect samples that will one day be brought back to Earth. It is equipped with upgraded cameras and sophisticated instrumentation including several spectrometers: 

Here, we bring to you the stories of some of the scientists involved with the spectrometers on the Perseverance mission.

Mockup of Perseverance Rover

APPLIED SPECTROSCOPY

LEARN HOW SPECTROSCOPY
IS WORKING ON MARS

INVOLVED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RAMAN SPECTROMETER AND ULTRAVIOLET LASER IN SHERLOC

Dr. Sanford Asher
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry

“Basically, what you need is a UV Raman laser that can cycle down to liquid nitrogen temperatures and up to room temperature, and stay aligned,” says Dr. Asher. The major advantage of the UV laser source in the SHERLOC is that it has the ruggedness to survive not only the shocks and vibrations involved in space travel and landing but also to withstand the temperature and pressure changes of a Mars environment so that its alignment is maintained.

Sandy Asher
Dr. Joseph Razzell-Hollis and mockup of Perseverance

PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN DATA ANALYSIS OPTIMIZATION FOR SHERLOC

Dr. Joseph Razzell Hollis
Postdoctoral Fellow At NASA’s JPL

Dr. Razzell Hollis is responsible for streamlining the data analysis process. When data is acquired and returned to Earth, he must determine how to extract information from the spectra and images as efficiently as possible. Due to a custom instrument that generates custom data formatting, Dr. Razzell Hollis had to learn Python. He performs a lot of custom coding to minimize human intervention from baselining spectra to extracting peak positions from fittings.

A CO-PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR FOR SUPERCAM ON THE PERSEVERANCE ROVER

Dr. Shiv Sharma
Tenured Research Professor

Shiv demonstrated that a pulsed laser coupled with time-gating could be used to take Raman measurements in the daylight, which was revolutionary in more than one way.

Sandy Asher

ABOUT THIS WEBSITE

 

SOCIETY FOR APPLIED SPECTROSCOPY

The Society for Applied Spectroscopy knows that the science on Mars is more than just groundbreaking instruments, it’s the scientists behind those instruments. We’re fulfilling our mission to advance spectroscopy by bringing you in-depth stories humanizing the spectroscopists with instruments on Mars.

SPECTROSCOPY BY THE NUMBERS

4

SPECTROSCOPY CORE TEAMS

2

LASERS

405

PERSEVERANCE TEAM MEMBERS

7

SPECTROMETERS & SCIENTIFIC CAMERAS

JOIN THE TEAM

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Connect with other spectroscopists, discover the latest advances in spectroscopy, develop your career and share your own skills and challenges.

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