Missions

Hubble Space Telescope

Hubble Space TelescopeDr. Jack Lissauer has been part of various teams using the Hubble Space Telescope to study the rings of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune for over a decade. This work has led to he discovery of two moons and two broad tenuous rings about Uranus, which was the cover story of Science magazine, and beautiful images of Saturn which have been used for two Hubble Heritage images.



Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)Dr. Thomas Bristow is the Principal Investigator of CheMin, a mineralogical instrument that is part of the analytical laboratory onboard the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover. MSL landed in the summer of 2012 and continues to explore Gale Crater, Mars. The principal goal of the MSL mission was to identify and characterize present or past habitable environments on Mars. CheMin data detailing the mineralogy of ~three and half billion year old lake sediments was central to achieving this goal in the first year of the mission. Mineralogical data from CheMin helped show that lakes that occupied Gale crater for hundreds of thousands of years were suited to supporting life. Since then CheMin has made and contributed to several fundamental discoveries on Mars including: the first definative mineralogical analysis of the Mars soil, the first in situ radiometric dating of Mars surface materials, constraints on the carbon dioxide content of the Mars atmosphere in Hesperian time, and the first direct evidence of silicic volcanism on Mars. The CheMin instrument was conceived and developed at Ames Research Center over a nearly 20-year period by Dr. David Blake. Dr Blake plays a central role in analysis and interpretation of the data. Dr. David Des Marais is a member of the MSL Chemin XRD/XRF science team. His role has been to contribute to the development of CheMin to help optimize its astrobiology-related observations, to interpret XRD/XRF data, and to utilize his prior experience with the Mars Explorations Rovers to help prepare for MSL mission operations. CheMin activities continue be managed and directed from Ames. Dr. Robert Haberle is a science team member of the Spanish-provided Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS). REMS uses sensors to measure the 3-D wind, air and ground temperature, relative humidity, surface pressure, and UV dosage. Dr. Haberle has provided the science and instrument requirements the REMS payload needs to meet in order to address questions related to large-scale dynamics and the dust, water, and CO2 cycles.

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
The James Webb Space Telescope will be the premier space-borne observatory of the next decade following its launch in 2021. The 6.5 m diameter infrared telescope will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. Dr. Thomas Greene is a member of two JWST science instrument teams: the MIRI mid-infrared instrument and the NIRCAM near-infrared camera. He developed the spectroscopic modes of NIRCam and defined science requirements for MIRI. Dr. Thomas Roellig is a also a member of the NIRCAM team. Both scientists are leading science programs using guaranteed time on the observatory to study star formation, exoplanets, and very low temperature brown dwarf sub-stellar objects. Both scientists have been very active in the pre-launch testing of the JWST instruments and telescope, and are currently working with the JWST science and mission operations staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute to define the in-orbit checkout and commissioning activities. Other Ames personnel contributed to the development and testing of the infrared detectors used in all JWST instruments.