Technology Lecture on Technological and Scientific Challenges of Atomic Force Microscope Measurements on Mars

Date: 12 Aug 2010 - 12 Aug 2010

Venue: SIMTech Auditorium, Tower Block, Level 3


In the upcoming talk, Dr Gautsch will give an overview of the results from the Phoenix Mission to illustrate how a microscope, smaller than a human finger, can function on Mars and will outline technological and scientific challenges which had to be overcome. The Phoenix Mission to Mars was launched in 2007 with two initial aims: exploring the geologic history of water to find traces of a climate change and analysing the planets potential to sustain life by investigating the ice-soil boundary. His passion for nanoscience led to his PhD thesis with a focus on the development of an atomic force microscope and measurement concepts for characterising martian dust and soil particles. The thesis which was written in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena was the foundation of the successful operation of an Atomic Force Microscope during the Phoenix Mission to Mars in 2008.

An Atomic Force Microscope on board NASA's Phoenix Lander had returned the first images of single particles of dust from the red planet in the summer of 2008. These measurements provide new clues about the histroy of water on Mars. This talk will give a short introduction to the Phoenix mission objectives. The speaker will also present the architecture of this AFM instrument and the challenges his group had to overcome to render the instrument compatible with the Martian environment. Measurement results of the soil particles and the scientific conclusions that can be made will be presented as well.

About the Speaker
Dr Sebastian Gautsch received his M.A.Sc. degree in Electronical Physics IN 1998 and a PhD degree in micro mechanical systems from the Institute of Microtechnology (IMT), University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland in 2001. His PhD thesis had been successfully done in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and led to the successful operation of an Atomic Force Microscope on the the Phoenix mission to Mars in 2008. 
He is currently a team leader at  EPFL IMT SAMLAB in the field of tools for nanoscience.  As a former swimming coach and assistant for the Swiss national team, Dr Gautsch will be involved as a speaker in the swimming competition during the Singapore Youth Olympic Games

3.00pm  Registration
3.15pm  Presentation by Dr Sebastian Gautsch
4.15pm  Q&A
4.30pm  End

Who Should Attend
Scientist, Engineers, Researchers, academic staff and students.

Pre-registration for the lecture is necessary. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Contact Us
For technical enquiries: 
Dr Kok Shaw Wei, Email:  Tel: 6793 8439; 6793 8505 (Lab)
Dr Dmitry V Isakov, Email:; Tel: 6793 2375

For general enquiries: 
Alice Koh, Email:  Tel: 6793 8249