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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M professor aids NASA in Mars image production

Mark Lemmon, a Texas A&M professor, will participate in a NASA project that will perfect the transmission of images from Mars.
“People have been looking at Mars and they wonder what is up there,” Lemmon said. “Now we can answer their questions.”
Lemmon is currently working on operations that include the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and the design of the Phoenix Lander. The cost of the mission is $820 million. His research on the atmosphere of Mars focuses on the nature and distribution of Martian atmospheric dust.
Lemmon is an associate research professor for atmospheric sciences at A&M and holds a doctorate in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona. His wife, Maria Escobar-Lemmon, is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science.
“I greatly admire him,” said distinguished professor for atmospheric sciences, Gerald North. “This is such a hot field which isn’t easy and I am very excited for him.”
He also said that Lemmon is very successful in receiving research grants from NASA.
“This is a good opportunity, not just for Texas A&M, but also for us to know what goes on in another planet,” said junior industrial distribution major Irfan Umatiya.
Lemmon has been involved in several of NASA’s planetary exploration missions, as well as astronomical observations and theoretical research. For his first mission in 1997 he was involved with the Mars Pathfinder Program. He later intended to work on the Mars Polar Landing project, but the machine crashed in 1999.
Lemmon said he researches other planets’ atmospheres but focuses mostly on Mars.
Lemmon and others occasionally travel to California to train for the current Mars mission. Currently, Lemmon is at the jet proportion lab in Pasedena, Calif.
“Lemmon as well as other researchers have a special watch that shows them what time it is on Mars,” North said.
To do this the watch ticks slower, adding 39 minutes to a day on Earth to create time on Mars. Lemmon’s day usually starts when most Americans’ days end.
This will be Lemmon’s first trip to Mars, and he plans to continue working with Spirit and Opportunity until April.
“This is a high-profile mission and is a good chance for Texas A&M University,” Lemmon said.

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