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NASA Physicist to Deliver Campbell Lecture

PULLMAN, Wash. — Michael Hecht, a physicist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will deliver the inaugural Gaylon Campbell Lecture in Environmental Soil and Water Science at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 18, in the CUB Auditorium at Washington State University.

Hecht will speak on “The Phoenix Mission to the Mars Polar Regions: Getting Down on Dirty.”

Hecht is lead investigator for the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, a soil analysis payload scheduled to fly to Mars on the Phoenix mission in 2007. At various times he has worked on planetary science, semiconductor surface and interface science, microelectromechanical system technologies and scientific instrument development.

In the northern Martian spring, which corresponds to mid-2008 on Earth, Phoenix will begin excavation of the surface with an articulated robot arm, feeding samples into the analyzer suite for physical and chemical characterization, and making measurements of thermal and electrical properties directly in the Martian soil.

Originally developed as the Mars Environmental Compatibility Assessment on the cancelled 2001 Mars Surface Lander, the MECA payload will be adapted to the study of icy soils for the 2007 mission.

The Campbell Lecture was created to help further understanding of environmental soil science. It is named for Gaylon Campbell, who spent nearly 30 years as a professor of environmental biophysics and soil physics in WSU’s crop and soil sciences department. He retired from WSU in 1998 to become vice president of engineering at Decagon Devices, a local manufacturer of biophysical research instrumentation. The lecture was created through gifts from Campbell Scientific, Inc., and Decagon Devices, Inc.

Campbell, with colleagues at Decagon and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, are designing a new Thermal and Electrical Conductivity Probe that will be carried on the Phoenix mission to Mars.

Hecht’s lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call (509) 335-2915.

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