- Press Release
- August 12, 2022
University of Chicago scientist participates in three Mars missions being launched this month
University of Chicago physicist Thanasis
Economou is involved in all three missions
that will be launched to Mars this month by
the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration and the European Space Agency.
He already was involved in the operation of
two scientific instruments en route to Saturn
and comet Wild-2.
Launched on June 2 was the European Mars Express mission. Mars
Express, an orbiter, includes the British-led Beagle 2 lander, which
will carry a chemical analysis instrument. Economou, a Senior
Scientist at the University of Chicago’s Enrico Fermi Institute,
serves as a consultant to the chemical analysis instrument’s science
NASA will launch two Mars Exploration Rover missions on Sunday, June
8 and Wednesday, June 25. Economou is a member of the science team
for both missions. Each rover is equipped with chemical sensors that
use a technique invented at the University of Chicago. The Alpha
Particle X-Ray Spectrometer instruments are similar to the one for
which Economou provided the X-ray spectrometer portion of the rover
that explored the Mars Pathfinder landing site in 1997.
Another instrument that Economou operates is the University’s dust
detector, which is aboard NASA’s Stardust space probe. That
instrument will measure the dust density around Wild-2 when Stardust
flies within 93 miles of the comet in January 2004. A similar
instrument on the Cassini space probe will collect data on dust
particles as that spacecraft crosses Saturn’s famous rings. Cassini
will enter Saturn’s orbit in July 2004.
The Chicago dust-detection instruments for Stardust and Cassini were
designed, developed and built by Anthony Tuzzolino, Senior Scientist
in the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the late John Simpson, the Arthur
Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Physics.
To arrange an interview with Economou, call Steve Koppes at (773)