Lab Canada

Canadian-made weather-measurement device to go to Mars

Halifax, NS – Dalhousie University researchers are providing a scientific instrument that will be part of NASA’s Phoenix Mission to Mars. The Phoenix Mars Scout is set to blast off from Kennedy Space Center in August 2007 aboard a Delta II rocket. The trip to Mars, known as the “Cruise” Phase, will take 10 months with the spacecraft traveling at speeds of 26,000 km/h.

As members of the International Phoenix Science Team, Dalhousie lends its expertise to the construction and operation of the Canadian-led laser radar – Lidar, which will arrive on Mars with the Phoenix Mission. The instrument measures the structure of the dusty atmosphere, making it a valuable tool on a mission designed to discover more about whether life really could exist on Mars.

Members of the project’s meteorological team include Dalhousie professor Tom Duck, who is providing input to the instrument design and operation, and model estimates of the data returned by the Phoenix Lidar System. Dr Duck previously constructed the Atlantic region’s first Lidar, which can often be seen beaming its green laser into the sky from the Dalhousie campus.