The Mars Group at the Niels Bohr Institute is a research group working with experimental exploration of the Martian surface. Our research is focused on surface materials - with emphasis on mineralogy - particularly airborne dust, and both local and regional wind patterns. Our investigations are primarily based on the instruments we have designed and built for Mars Lander missions.
August 1st, 2014, NASA announced the payload on the Mars 2020 Rover to conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations. NASA selected seven experiments, two of which has Danish Co-investigators. The one experiment, Mastcam-Z, will be a further development of the scientific stereo cameras flown on NASA's Curiosity mission - for the next mission these cameras will be equipped with zoom-lenses. Both Kjartan Kinch and Morten Bo Madsen, members of the Niels Bohr Institute Mars group were invited by the instrument Principal Investigator, Professor Jim Bell, Arizona State University, to participate in the Science Team behind the development of these new cameras. The other experiment, "MOXIE", Mars OXygen In situ resource utilization Experiment, will test - in the natural Martian environment - the production of oxygen directly from the Martian atmosphere. Morten Bo Madsen was invited on this team to work on characterization of airborne dust, which may potentially cause problems for the equipment producing the oxygen.
Apart from these important new activities the group is mostly occupied with its participation in the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission with its rover, Curiosity. The image at the top of the page shows the SkyCrane in operation during successful fully automated landing of Curiosity early morning (DK-time) on Monday the 6'th of August 2012. Image credit: NASA/JPL.See the link to the danish MSL blog in the side panels.
Members of the Danish MSL-team participated with US, German, French, and British team members in analysis of clasts at Curiosity's landing site, an analysis showing that rivers once transported, grinded and rounded small rocks at this site. The small movie above (by our team member Asmus Koefoed) illustrates this work and its interpretation.From May through September 2008 members of our group worked in the Science Operations Centre of NASAs Phoenix Mars Lander Mission. Phoenix landed on Mars the 25th of May 2008 and was active through October 2008. The image below is an artists view of the Phoenix lander working on the Martian surface.
Image credit: University of Arizona, and NASA/JPL.