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Christopher Fowler, "Robots on Mars: Why do we send them and what do they do?"

Join us on Monday, September 18 at 2:30pm in the White Hall Planetarium for a colloquium presented by Dr. Christopher Fowler of the WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy. His talk is titled  Robots on Mars: Why do we send them and what do we do?  Continue reading for Dr. Fowler's abstract.


Mars is the only planet in our solar system that is inhabited entirely by robots! But why do we send these intrepid adventurers on such long and lonely journeys, and what do they get up to once they arrive at Mars? In this talk we’ll cover a (brief) history of Mars exploration since the first pioneering missions in the 1960s, focusing on the landers, rovers and orbiting spacecraft that make up Mars’ bustling community. We’ll discuss some of the current
“cutting edge” questions that scientists are addressing with our affable explorers, including how this research can overlap with and advance other areas of science such as Solar and Astro physics. The most recent missions to Mars have become bigger, heavier, more powerful and more ambitious, which begs that age old question: “How do you land a 1 ton, car-sized rover, on the surface of Mars?” (hint: it involves a rocket crane). We’ll wrap up with some recent discoveries about Mars that were made possible by our robotic friends, before thinking about what may lie ahead for our exploration of the Red Planet. This is a test run of a WVU planetarium outreach talk and is filled with photos, videos and content aimed at the Mars-curious among us.

Dr. Christopher Fowler's Faculty Page