Harding professor appears in scientific journal for research with Mars robot

The Viking mission in 1976 is the only Mars robotic exploration to date purposed to search for signs of life. However, several scientists, including Harding University professor Dr. Ed Wilson, are looking to change that. Recently, Wilson, professor of chemistry, co-authored an article detailing the use of robotic missions in furthering the search for life on Mars, published in the special October/November Mars issue of the Journal of Cosmology.

Backed by his current work with a mobile robot spectrometer he is designing for a future NASA Mars mission, Wilson and his colleagues discuss in the article the capabilities of robotic rovers exploring Mars’ niche environments for evidence of past and present life. Wilson’s research and work on the spectrometer are funded through a NASA grant with Dr. Gary Anderson, engineering professor in the Department of Applied Science at University of Arkansas at Little Rock and co-author of the article, and Dr. Charles Wu, Harding associate professor of electrical engineering,The article details how information gained from studying harsh environments on Earth, such as deserts and underwater volcanoes, can guide scientists seeking life on Mars. Wilson and his colleagues also discuss the important role of robots in scientific exploration on Earth’s most hospitable neighbor and the potential discoveries that can be made using a robotic vehicle with measurement capabilities, such as the one they are building.

Wilson said he is always eager to share his work with students and includes them in the process of constructing the instrument that will be mounted on the Mars robot.
“I really enjoy teaching my research students how to build and test scientific instruments and also taking them to premier research centers in the U.S. like Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA Ames Research Center to meet my professional colleagues and see the amazing research and engineering being done at these facilities,” Wilson said. “It really gives the students an advantage as they begin their professional careers if they have done some meaningful research.”

The article is available online for public viewing at http://journalofcosmology.com/Mars136.html.