ICYMI: The search for frost on Mars

The presence of ice on the red planet could have important scientific implications

October 5, 2022

2022-09-15 Opt
Matt Brand with the ChemCam lab unit. ChemCam is the instrument aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Matthew Brand of the Laboratory's Space Data Science and Systems group moved to Los Alamos from his hometown of New York, all to do work on Mars.

Even before he graduated from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 2021, Brand knew he wanted to design and operate spacecraft. The Lab offered exactly that opportunity with a spot as an engineer on the Lab’s SuperCam team. SuperCam — aboard the Perseverance rover — is a suite of tools that’s helping search for signs of ancient life on Mars.

It’s also looking for frost, writes Brand in a new post on NASA’s Mars 2020 blog. But why?

The presence of Martian frost can give us specific understanding about the geology and water cycle of the planet, writes Brand. Also, right now is the peak of winter in Mars’ Jezero Crater — so it’s the perfect time to search for the icy stuff. That’s why SuperCam used its laser to zap a soil target and analyze it on Sept. 2 (sol 546).

As the campaign to find frost on Mars continues, Brand will keep his eye on the sky. “What excites me most is seeing new images and data come down from Mars after a long day on operations,” he says. “Never-before-seen Martian landscapes and rocks are suddenly revealed — and to have a part in that is a dream come true.”

Read the post.