Ryan Anderson is a planetary scientist and developer at the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center. He uses quantitative geomorphology and spectroscopy to understand past conditions on Mars and other planets. He also works on developing useful software tools for planetary scientists, and uses multivariate analysis and machine learning to make sense of large, complicated data sets. Ryan is a member of the ChemCam science team on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, working on day-to-day rover operations, and on processing and interpreting ChemCam results. He is also a member of the SuperCam science team on the Mars 2020 rover mission.
Well, after three days of fascinating science and heated discussion, the fifth and final MSL landing site workshop has come to a close, and the consensus is -- that all of the sites are pretty darn interesting.
Laser beams and space exploration are perfect for each other, and not just because all self-respecting starship captains know their way around a blaster. It turns out that zapping rocks with a laser is not only fun, it also can tell you what they're made of!
We wrapped up the landing site workshop on Wednesday afternoon by revisiting each of the four sites and discussing them in turn. Unfortunately, the way that we did this was very disappointing, and made for a frustrating afternoon.