An out-of-this-world study is coming to Timmins next month.

Regional Resident Geologist with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines Ed van Hees says Dr. Adrian Brown and Dr. Pablo Sobron will be here to calibrate instruments that will be carried by the Mars2020 rover.

Dr. Brown works with Plancius Research at NASA’s Headquarters. Dr. Sobron works with the SETI Institute.

The project itself is looking into “serpentinisation and talc-carbonate alteration on Mars” and is funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

The rover will explore the surface of Mars beginning in 2020 (hence the name) and will look to differentiate “carbonates and magnesium-rich clays that occur in two of the possible landing sites from talc-carbonate and serpentine.”

But why Timmins?

Hees says we have the rocks that contain minerals they can examine. Those minerals include talc, chlorite and carbonate comparable to what might be found on Mars.

Measurements will be made using six different instruments in order “to characterize how these rocks/minerals appear to the instruments.”

“If they can identify minerals like the talc and serpentine that only form where water is present,” van Hees says, “It will help support the presence of water on Mars.”

And where there’s water on Mars, there could also be life.

If you want to learn more about the research, a presentation titled “How Canada Rocks – The NASA Mars 2020 Rover Landing Site,” hosted by Dr. Adrian Brow is scheduled for Thursday, August 10th at Northern College.

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