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Goddard Scientists Selected as Participating Scientists in Mars Science Laboratory and Cassini Missions
12.15.11
 
Artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity roverThis artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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artist concept of Cassini spacecraftArtist concept of Cassini at Saturn. Image credit: NASA/JPL
Five scientists from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. have been selected as Participating Scientists in NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and Cassini missions.

The new MSL Participating Scientists are Jennifer Eigenbrode, Daniel Glavin, and Michael Smith.

Jennifer Eigenbrode was selected for her proposal to study the effects of high-energy ionizing radiation on the organic chemistry in sediments that are analogous to those of the Gale Crater, the MSL landing site. The study will draw from MSL observations on the sediments, minerals, salt chemistry, and radiation in that environment. Results of the radiation tests will be used to help guide organic analyses on Mars by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Eigenbrode will work primarily with the SAM and Radiation Assessment Detector teams on MSL.

Daniel Glavin was awarded a grant to investigate new Sample Analysis at Mars instrument protocols to search for amines of biological origin on Mars. Goddard team members include Jason Dworkin, Amy McAdam, Caroline Freissinet, and Millie Martin. The proposal was one of 22 U.S. investigations selected out of 149 total proposals submitted.

Michael Smith was selected for his proposal to study ozone, dust, and ice particles in the Martian atmosphere. He will determine the abundance and physical characteristics, such as size, of the particles using a combination of MSL instruments that operate at the visible, ultraviolet, and near-infrared wavelengths. From that, the illumination of Mars's surface from the sky will be calculated; this information is helpful for scientists who study processes at the surface and for identifying minerals using remote sensing.

The new Cassini Participating Scientists are Carrie Anderson and Brigette Hesman. Both Anderson and Hesman will work with the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) team at Goddard.

Carrie Anderson's proposed work for the Cassini Data Analysis Program would investigate the organic particulates that make up the aerosol and the clouds in Titan's atmosphere. Titan is Saturn's largest moon. By studying how these particulates move through various layers of the atmosphere as well as around the globe, researchers can trace the global atmospheric currents and determine how these change with Titan's seasons. The study will use both CIRS and the Cassini Huygens Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer data to detect a wide variety of chemical species by looking at wavelengths from the near-infrared (IR) to the far-IR.

Brigette Hesman's proposed work for the Cassini Data Analysis Program involves studying the effects of storms in Saturn's atmosphere by looking at changes in the temperatures, winds, and the amounts of certain gases. The study will focus on prominent features such as the ovals that have been seen in "storm alley" and other areas of Saturn's southern hemisphere. Also of interest is a major storm in the northern hemisphere that has been going on for nearly a year and grew so large that it stretched all the way around the planet. By using CIRS data, the effects of these storms on the composition and chemistry of the atmosphere will be probed.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens and MSL missions for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about the Mars Science Laboratory, visit:

www.nasa.gov/msl

For more information about the Cassini mission, visit:

www.nasa.gov/cassini