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Jeff Barnes
"The Coming Decade in Mars Exploration: Mars Science Laboratory and Beyond"
October 17, 2011

Jeffrey R. Barnes, Professor in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at OSU has been involved in a number of NASA missions since Viking, including Mars Orbiter, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Climate Orbiter, and now ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.

The past decade has been an extremely active one for Mars exploration with Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Phoenix, Mars Express, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The coming decade promises to be a very active one as well.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is scheduled to launch late this year for its nominal one Mars Year mission on the surface. MSL is a very large rover, which will explore Gale Crater and its central mound with a highly sophisticated array of instruments.

The EDL engineering for MSL involved intensive atmospheric modeling studies that ultimately demonstrated that the system was sufficiently robust to allow a low-risk landing at any one of the four candidate landing sites

It will pioneer a new entry, descent, and landing (EDL) system that involves roughly horizontal controlled flight and a final "sky crane" system to lower the rover onto the surface, ready to operate.

The OSU Mars atmospheric modeling group played a key role in these studies over the last 4 years. Once on the surface MSL will be able to go significantly beyond the Mars Exploration Rovers in searching for possible evidence of habitability and life, past and present.

Following MSL, the MAVEN mission will be launched in 2013 to carry out studies focused on the upper atmosphere of Mars and the escape of gases from that region.

In 2016, a joint U.S.-European era of Mars exploration will commence with the launch of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission. This mission is targeted at the study of methane in the Mars atmosphere, a possible indicator of biological activity, as well as other atmospheric constituents.

Finally, in 2018 NASA and ESA will collaborate on a rover mission designed to cache samples for a future sample return mission.

Dr Barnes graduated from Iowa State University in 1975 with a B.S. in Physics. Received an M.S. in Planetary Sciences from the California Institute of Technology in 1977. Worked on the Viking Mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1977. Received a Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1983 in Atmospheric Sciences, with a dissertation on studies of the Mars atmosphere.

After being a Post-Doc at NASA-Ames Research Center, went to OSU as an Assistant Professor in 1984. His research involves modeling of the Mars atmosphere at a wide range of scales and analysis of spacecraft data.

 His web page can be found at: http://www.coas.oregonstate.edu/index.cfm?fuseaction=content.search&searchtype=people&detail=1&id=382

 

2011 The Rose City Astronomers  All Rights Reserved