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…

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…

Iceland Fieldwork 2015 (aka 50 Shades of Grey)

Another summer, another trip to Iceland! However, instead of sampling the usual volcanic and hydrothermal deposits and environments, this visit was focused on one thing only: sediments. Sedimentary deposits have become a key focus of ongoing Mars exploration. This is because of their association with long-lived liquid water habitats (such as fluvial-lacustrine deposits), and preservation…

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…

Mars analogue adventures in Iceland 2014

Landing into Keflavik airport has become a familiar sight, as the vast flat expanse of moss-covered lava flows stretches out into a horizon of cold grey clouds as we approach the runway. This is my ninth trip to Iceland, and for this trip we are sampling from various sites in the northeast – some old, some…

Deep Carbon Science at Yellowstone National Park

The Rocky Mountains and a big blue Montana sky provided the backdrop for the Deep Carbon Observatory summer school this month. Thirty PhD students and postdocs from across the globe came to learn about carbon cycling at Yellowstone National Park. Organised by Adrian Jones (University College London) and John Baross (University of Washington), this summer school…

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…

The Next Giant Leap

Film producer Coolbox has released a short documentary discussing the future of Mars exploration, in collaboration with Sophie Nixon of our own UK Centre for Astrobiology, and Euan Monaghan from the Open University. In it’s own words, through interviews with scientists at the cutting edge of planetary science and astrobiology, this short documentary discusses the challenges…

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…