April 5, 2017, 3:30 p.m.
Building 8 Auditorium - PLEASE
NOTE CHANGE OF LOCATION DUE TO RENOVATION OF BUILDING
GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER
and Ices in the Polar Regions of Mars - the future is LIDAR"
Dr. Adrian Brown will talk
about his research into the icy volatiles of Mars and what we've
been able to learn using a passive hyperspectral infrared
spectrometer called "CRISM" on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Using this instrument, Brown and his team tracked the movement
of water ice and the nighttime snowfall events that happen
during the north polar cap summer.
Mars is a different place than Earth. There is water on Mars,
more than the Moon, but lots less than on our own world. But the
water on Mars is the same H2O we have here, and we should use it
when we travel to Mars and set up the first human bases. “Living
off the land” on Mars is going to be crucial, because we can’t
hope to bring all the water we need. We’ll have to be water
farmers. That’s why, just like farmers here on Earth need to
think about how much water they use and where they’re getting it
from, Martian farmers will need to know about the martian water
cycle, how it operates seasonally, where the water comes from,
and where it’s being stored now.
That’s what Dr. Brown's research is all about. He is doing the
water work for the first Martians, remotely from the Red Planet
in space and remotely from the first settlers in time. A series
of 4 papers published by Brown and his team over the past 8
years have establishes the surface water cycle in the southern
and northern polar caps during summer and spring. The winter is
a lot more challenging, and no farmer or robot is going to want
to be there.
In winter, the dry ice at the Martian poles freezes, and every
exposed surface cools down to 148 K, or -190F. But during the
summer, the polar caps thaw and occasionally get up to a balmy
200 K (-100 F). Water molecules only then start warming up and
traveling around the cap. In a thinner atmosphere, with lower
gravity, the snowpack is likely to be far different from Aspen
or Vale. These differences from the Earth make the
interpretation of remote sensing data from Mars extremely
exciting and also challenging. Dr. Brown will talk about some of
the mysterious curiosities of the Martian polar caps, and how we
might break through the Martian ice with LIDAR in the future.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Adrian Brown is a planetary scientist working at the SETI
Institute and NASA Goddard. His fields of research include Mars,
astrobiology and remote sensing spectroscopy. His current
research focuses on the analysis of data from the Mars
instrument "CRISM" which is onboard the Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter (Mister Oh). For the CRISM project, he is helping choose
targets and analysing data from the North and South Poles of
Mars. He is working with other researchers to study seasonal
changes in the surface and atmosphere in the polar regions of
Mars. The poles are the most dynamic regions on Mars and they
may hold the history of past water on Mars.
He completed his PhD studies at the Australian Centre for
Astrobiology. He is involved in the running of the Australian
Space Prize, which is an annual prize for undergraduates who
have completed an Honours thesis related to space in science or
engineering. The winner each year travels to a NASA Center in
the United States to take part in a 10-week summer
program. He also helps teach an online planetary science
course at the Astronomy Department of Swinburne University in
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