The meeting went ahead last night with a superb talk from Liam Harris a PhD student in the Department of Physics at the University of Leicester. Liam talked about the Exomars mission and his involvement with an experiment on board the rover.
Instead of using a destructive laser to burn the rock like Curiosity, which has been exploring since 2012, he plans to use Raman spectroscopy. This technique shines a laser at the rock samples taken from 2m below the surface of Mars which makes the different molecules within the rock vibrate at a known measured frequency and emit a different spectrum. The intention is to look for a specific chemical signature that is produced by microbes that live in rocks in the hope to discover extra-terrestrial life. To find out more about these microbes please follow the link at the end of the blog.
We also had a presentation from Mike covering Opportunity being on Mars for 10 years, the recent type 1a supernova (sn2014J) which is in the nearby galaxy of M82 and the mechanism that has led to it’s formation and finally Orion and the night sky in January. The supernova and is visible through small telescopes now.
Liam had a tour of our observatory and took a look at our Meade LX200 telescope although it was cloudy and no observing was possible.
We renewed membership which is £10 per year. Our next meeting is February 27th at 6pm, we look forward to seeing you there.