MSc/PhD/Postdoctoral Positions in Mars Geochemistry and Habitability/ LIBS analyses with the ChemCam instrument and the MSL mission

Funded projects are available for MSc/PhD/Postdoctoral candidates to work on Mars geochemistry and habitability as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.  The ChemCam laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument, currently operating on the Curiosity rover, has the unique ability to perform sub-mm scale elemental analyses on Martian rocks. This investigation will include detailed analyses of a suite of relevant natural analog samples using the LIBS. Associated field-work will target mafic weathering profiles and clay-rich veins of the Monteregian Hills, Quebec. Prepared synthetic samples will also be investigated to better understand plasma emission and laser-matter interactions in different geological materials and at different depths.  Samples will also be fully characterized, before and after LIBS analyses, at McGill University’s Facility for Electron Microscopy Research and geochemical laboratories.  Students will also participate in the newly-formed, multidisciplinary McGill Space Institute.

Altogether, this work will significantly improve the fine-scale characterization of materials on Mars, thereby helping to better assess past habitability. This work will also be relevant to the SuperCam investigation on the Mars 2020 rover and other planetary LIBS instruments.  Interested candidates should send a letter of interest and CV to Dr. Richard Léveillé ([email protected]), NASA MSL Participating Scientist and Adjunct Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, QC.

McGill University is an English-speaking university and is consistently ranked as one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities.