1 week on Mars

Recently I took part in the Mars Utah Rover Field Investigation (“MURFI”) – a joint UK Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency endeavour that simulated a Mars Rover mission to the martian surface over several weeks. For the UK side of things, mission control was conducted at the Mars Operations Centre at the Satellite Applications Catapult…

Position available – Research Fellow in Planetary Science

Project: Scientific integration and exploitation of ExoMars PanCam, ISEM and CLUPI (36 months) Dept. Earth and Environmental Sciences (University of St Andrews) and Dept. Physics (Aberystwyth University) The European Space Agency “ExoMars” programme comprises a Trace Gas Orbiter, which launched successfully this year, and a surface robotic rover due to launch in 2020. This ExoMars…

PhD Studentship available – Oct 2016

A fully-funded 42 month PhD Studentship is available within the Planetary Habitability group at the University of St Andrews, supervised by myself and Aubrey Zerkle. The project will investigate feasible chemolithotrophic metabolisms on Mars and their resulting stable isotope biosignatures, using unusual ice-fed hydrothermal lakes and ponds in Iceland as a ‘biological analogue’ for past…

Planetary Science at St Andrews

We had the pleasure recently of hosting a 1 day symposium on Habitable Solar Systems here in St Andrews, funded by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences for their ongoing ‘Frontier Research’ meetings and as a follow-up to a workshop earlier this year on Novel analytical methods in materials and physical/life sciences funded through EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship. This cross-disciplinary meeting…

Mars, Missions and Microbes

April proved to be a very successful month, with three brand new projects selected for funding by the UK Space Agency as part of their ongoing ‘Aurora’ programme. These projects are very different, but all relate to the ongoing exploration of Mars… The first is a 3.5 year PhD Studentship to explore chemolithotrophic metabolisms and resulting stable…

New Year, New Projects

2016 kicks-off with two exciting new projects here at St. Andrews, and two new people! The first is a Leverhulme Trust funded 3 year project (Jan 2016 – 2019) focusing on the UV luminescence of organics and minerals, and will be conducted by Boris Laurent who joined the St. Andrews Planetary Habitability cohort as a…

36 Month PDRA Position in Planetary Sciences

Following a recent award by The Leverhulme Trust, applications are invited for a full-time PDRA position in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St. Andrews to work on the project “Looking for Life in the UV: Fluorescence as a tool for planetary exploration”. This multidisciplinary project brings together techniques from luminescence…

Going Off-Road…Perthshire Style

With Iceland fieldwork looming on the horizon (3 weeks to go!), it seemed appropriate to do some pre-emptive off-road driving in preparation for the rocky tracks that criss-cross the remote Icelandic interior. One of the nice things about the RSE fellowship is that it has extra funds attached on the side courtesy of the EC Marie…

Taking space technology underground

Last month saw the astrobiology group at Edinburgh head down to darkest deepest Whitby, to test out new and existing space technology at Boulby Mine – a sprawling salt mine warren burrowing 1.1 km beneath the bottom of the North Sea. Joining us in the network of tunnels, which are still being actively mined for potash, were…

Onwards and upwards

Recently I started work on a 5 year Royal Society of Edinburgh Personal Research Fellowship, co-funded by Marie Curie Actions. This is based within the UK Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh, where I have been working as a postdoc over the summer. Over the next 5 years I will be using volcanic…