Roving the Red Planet: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of Mars
Dr Paulo de Souza

Research Director, CSIRO Centre for Information and Communication Technologies

21 April  2010, 8:00 pm

Theatrette, Launceston College (F Block)



The purpose of the Mars mission is to look for geological evidence concerning whether the red planet had conditions on its surface that would have been suitable for life as we know it. In other words, we set out to look for sedimentary rocks: a sure sign that there was once water on Mars.

After six years of intense exploration and key discoveries on Mars, the rovers are showing signs of age.  The rover Spirit became blocked in a sand trap, but is still able to conduct science observations and communicate with us. The rover Opportunity is learning from the difficulties encountered by her sister and is continuing the exploration of Mars.

You will be introduced to these rovers' curriculum vitae. You will see how they were born, constructed, tested, packaged, sent to Mars and changed our knowledge about the history of Mars and of our Solar System.


Paulo de Souza is a Physicist with a PhD in Natural Sciences. He is Research Director of Tasmanian ICT Centre at CSIRO, and a collaborator scientist on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers Project. He has worked in industrial research centres in Brazil and Europe, and received many international awards as a result of his research in industry. Paulo has written over 100 scientific papers, and co-authored a series of papers identified as ‘Breakthrough on the Year: 2004’ by the prestigious magazine Science.

Lecture sponsored by  the School of Mathematics and Physics and the Australian Institute of Physics.