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  DSU's Dr. Noureddine Melikechi Named To Serve on NASA's MARS 2020 Team


Delaware State University’s Dr. Noureddine Melikechi has been named by NASA to serve on a select team that will be involved in the development of a sophisticated instrument – the SuperCam – that will be used on the space agency’s planned Mars 2020 mission.

Dr. Melikechi – dean of the DSU College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology; vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development; and the founder of the DSU Optics Research Program – is presently a member of the NASA ChemCam Team that is connected to the current Mars Mission taking place on the Red Planet.

NASA’s search for life on the planet Mars will continue with the launch in 2020 of a rover similar in design to the current mission’s Curiosity Rover.  Last week NASA announced the seven sophisticated instruments that it selected to be part of this new scientific mission.

These instruments together will provide an unprecedented set of tools to the team to explore the planet Mars. The seven instruments will use a multitude of detailed measurements, including geophysical, geochemical and atmospheric. These will provide clues to determine the past and/or present potential for habitability of the planet. One of the instruments selected – the SuperCam – will consist of a laser; its second harmonic will provide tremendous spectroscopic capabilities to the mission. 

“This new instrument will have more potential and more capabilities than the current one on the Red Planet,” Dr. Melikechi said. “I am delighted that SuperCam was selected to be one of the instruments for the Mars2020 mission. This selection demonstrates the power of the laser and its great potential to help solve some of the biggest scientific and technological questions of our times. Our students will no doubt benefit from this mission in one way or another.”