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Applied Research

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Areas of Research:

  • Landing Site Selection for Mars Exopaleontology
  • Past and Present Habitable Environments on Mars
  • Instrument Development for Life Detection Missions to Mars
  • Planetary Protection Protocols for Mars Sample Return
  • In Situ Robotic Geological Characterization of Mars and Lunar Landing Sites
  • Human-Robotic interactions in Lunar and Mars Exploration 

Currently Funded Projects

1) I am a Participating Scientist and Long-term Planning Lead on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission (active since 2003), which has been continuously exploring Mars for >5 years with the twin MER rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. The results of this work has been reported in the various MER team publications listed in my CV. My participation in MER has been supported by a Participating Scientist grant from MER Project, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.

2) Member of the CheMin team on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. CheMin is an X-ray Diffraction/Fluorescence instrument that will perform the first definitive mineralogical analysis on Mars. I am also the Education lead for the CheMin team. The MSL mission was originally scheduled to launch in 2009, but has now slipped to a 2011, although a variety of team training activities are presently underway. I participated in weekly web and telecon-based team training activities in October and November, 2008.  My participation is supported by funding from the MSL project of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.

3) Working with technologist/optical engineer, Glenn Sellar (JPL) to develop a multispectral microscopic imager (MMI) for flight missions to Mars, the Moon and other places in the solar system. This is basically a microscope that provides microscale color images (10-30x magnification), where each pixel in the image is a full visible/near IR spectrum of the material imaged. We have also been working to integrate the MMI with and the Mars MicroRaman Spectrometer, previously developed for flight under MIDP funding. In contrast to the CheMin instrument, which requires a powdered sample, the MMI and MMRS are surface contact instruments that require minimal preparation of rock or soil surfaces. This applied research was previously funded by NASA’s ASTID and PIDP programs and a grant from the JPL Director’s Discretionary Fund. The project currently receives funding from the Mars Instrument Development Program (MIDP) which aims to bring the integrated MMI-MMRS instrument to Technology Readiness Level 6 so it can be proposed for flight. Co-I’s include Glenn Sellar at (JPL), Loni Lane (JPL), Alian Wang (Washington Univ., Saint Louis) and PhD Candidate, Jorge Nunez (ASU).  In collaboration with Ken Herkenhoff (USGS Flagstaff) we also proposed the MMI instrument for the Chandryan-2 mission to the Moon, which India has planned for a 2013 launch.

4) I am also working with Glenn Sellar (JPL) and Mark Robinson (ASU) to design and implement realistic field tests of the MMI and MMRS at terrestrial analog sites for the Moon and Mars. We will kick this off through our participation in field trials in Hawaii in January and February of 2010. These field tests will provide opportunities to use the MMI and MMRS in the characterization of geological traverses, as well as the products of In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) experiments being conducted at Mauna Kea (Hawaii) by the NASA FSAT program. This work is supported by NASA’s Moon and Mars Mission Analog Studies (MAMMA) Program. 


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Copyright © Dr. Jack Farmer, Arizona State University
email Dr. Farmer: jfarmer at asu dot edu