Adrian Brown

Adrian Brown
Research Scientist
We're finding out as much as we can about our nearest habitable neighbor in order to lay the groundwork for the eventual colonization of Mars. There is nothing scientifically stopping us.

When most people look at photos of the martian landscape, they see the kind of dry topography that, while attractive, says nothing more than that Mars resembles many of the desert areas of Earth. But for planetary scientist Adrian Brown, there are clues in them-thar hills – clues to where liquid water might once have puddled and pooled on the Red Planet, and possibly spawned life.

Adrian works with SETI Institute scientist Janice Bishop in analyzing spectroscopic data gathered by the new Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. As example, he’s interested in finding subtle hints that large bodies of water might once have flooded the northern regions of this now-dry world, hints that the Orbiter’s spectroscope could provide. In addition to his search for water, he also hunts for clues to volcanic activity in these same northern realms, because the energy provided by such eruptions could fuel microscopic life.

A native of Australia, Adrian has spent a lot of time walking the rugged outback of the western part of that continent, learning how minerals in dry environments can be the fingerprints of water. That expertise will help him in searching for clues to Mars’ hydraulic past, when not just water, but alien life might have decked the landscape.

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Mapping Summertime Evolution of Ice in the North and South Poles with CRISM

We propose to use data from the CRISM visible/near infrared (VNIR) mapping spectrometer to examine the spectral changes that take place in the north and south polar caps during summer. It is well known that the residual cap in the north is composed of water ice and in the south is composed of CO2 ice, but changes within the warm season are not yet understood. This proposal will augment recent work on CRISM observations of the springtime evolution and retreat of the seasonal cap of both hemispheres: (Brown et al. 2009 for south and Brown et al 2012 for north).

Experiments to investigate Coherent Backscatter from atmosphereless bodies

We propose to conduct a set of controlled laboratory experiments to investigate the nature of coherent backscattering from high albedo, atmosphereless solar system bodies.

Polar water ice clouds and dust aerosols seasonal mapping using CRISM EPF data

We propose to use Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) emission phase function (EPF) measurements in the Martian poles (regions poleward of 55° latitude) to map dust and water ice aerosols and surface albedos as a function of season using CRISM data.