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NASA Opportunities

Space Life Sciences Laboratory (SLSL) Seminar – The MarsSedEx flights – Simulating Sedimentation on Mars

The Space Life Sciences Laboratory (SLSL) near KSC, invites you to meet

Dr. Nickolaus Kuhn, University of Basel, Switzerland, –

Wednesday, April 8th at 12.00 noon in Conference Room 301.

Dr. Kuhn got his first degree in Physical Geography (1990-1995) in his native country Germany from the University of Trier, completing a thesis on Holocene climate change and dryland lake hydrology in NE-Spain. Winning the Government of Canada Award to undertake PhD research, he moved to the University of Toronto in 1996. There he completed a PhD in Geography (1996-2000), studying the effects of varying weather patterns on soil erosion in Canada and Mexico. The PhD was followed by postdoctoral research in Israel (2001) on the role of rainfall-surface interaction for landscape development in the northern Negev. In 2002, he started academic teaching as Visiting Assistant Professor at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts. He joined the University of Exeter as Lecturer for Geography in July 2003. In 2007, he was appointed Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter.

The MarsSedEx flights – Simulating Sedimentation on Mars

Unravelling the past environments on Mars and the search for traces of life is based on the understanding of the formation of rocks formed by deposition in rivers and lakes. Interpreting MER and MSL rover imagery relies strongly on back calculating flow hydraulics using rock properties such as the diameter of the grains and pebbles visible in outcrops. Models for such calculations have been developed for applications on Earth and are highly empirical. This raises the question whether they apply on Mars, in particular how the lower Martian gravity affects flow hydraulics. The Mars Sedimentation Experiments (MarsSedEx) conducted during reduced gravity flights offered by Zero g and supported by Space Florida examined the potential error caused by using a non-calibrated terrestrial model for particle settling on Mars and the effect on the size distribution of sand grains forming rocks such as those found in Gale crater.

This talk presents the research conducted by the University of Basel during the MarsSedEx I and II flights in 2012 and 2013 and published by Nikolaus Kuhn in the book Experiments in Reduced Gravity: Sedimentation on Mars.  In addition, an outlook onto the MarsSedEx III flight scheduled for June 2015 and the further development of experimental research on Martian surface processes is presented.


Please note that a food truck (Willy T’s Crab Shack; menu to follow) will be available beginning at 11:00am if you’d like to take your lunch to the seminar.  Additionally, please enter through the lobby, sign in and take a badge.  Hope to see you there.


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