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  • Exploring Mars With Perseverance and Ingenuity

Exploring Mars With Perseverance and Ingenuity

  • 10 Jun 2021
  • (MDT)
  • Via Zoom

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Abstract: NASA’s biggest rover, Perseverance, landed on Mars in February with a mission to collect and eventually return samples to Earth. Percy’s payload consists of seven scientific instruments plus a sample cache system. Los Alamos leads the SuperCam instrument on the mast of the rover, which sports a laser, telescopic imager, and a microphone. LANL is also involved in the SHERLOC organic-chemistry experiment on the rover’s arm. Perseverance’s companion is the Ingenuity helicopter. My talk will give the latest details of our adventure with Percy and Ingenuity.

Bio: Dr. Wiens started his scientific career by writing the first dissertation on the Mars atmosphere based on samples analyzed in the laboratory, from Martian meteorites. He has worked as a scientist at Caltech, the University of California, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, and has made extended research visits to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Bern, Switzerland, and Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France.

Dr. Wiens is the leader of the SuperCam laser instrument on the Perseverance rover that landed on Mars in 2021. This instrument has the rover’s highest resolution remote imager, a microphone, and infrared and laser techniques. His team includes French, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Canadian, and US participation. He is also a co-investigator on the SHERLOC instrument on the rover’s arm. Previously, he was the leader of ChemCam on the Curiosity rover (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/; http://www.msl-chemcam.com) which landed in 2012 and is still operating. Wiens has been involved in other NASA robotic missions as well.  He was responsible for three instruments for NASA’s Genesis mission and he acted in the capacity of Flight Payload Lead. This mission was the first to return to Earth from nearly a million miles beyond the Moon, when it landed in 2004 with solar-wind samples that revealed exciting details about the composition of the Sun. Wiens’ other missions include Stardust, Mars Odyssey, Lunar Prospector, and Deep Space-One. The destinations for these missions include the Moon, Mars, and comets.

Wiens has been recognized by NASA and Los Alamos National Laboratory for his contributions to science. In 2016 he was knighted by the government of France for his work in “forging strong ties between the French and American scientific communities” and for “inspiring many young, ambitious earthlings.” He has received other awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Toulouse and the naming of Asteroid 41795 WIENS.

Dr. Wiens is a very active writer and speaker, giving several public talks each month and publishing over a dozen papers per year. Models of his teams’ instruments are displayed in museums in Los Alamos and Toulouse, France. His book, Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration from Genesis to the Mars Rover Curiosity (Basic Books, New York), describes his teams’ space adventures up through the Curiosity rover landing. Dr. Wiens has a vision to communicate to the public the adventure and challenge of space exploration and to encourage others to pursue their dreams despite the obstacles.

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The Bradbury Science Museum Association supports and inspires learners of all ages in Northern New Mexico and beyond through STEM Education.

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