SETI’s Dr. Janice Bishop Wins Award for Clay Science Research on Mars

SETI’s Dr. Janice Bishop Wins Award for Clay Science Research on Mars

The prestigious Jackson Mid-Career Clay Scientist Award recognizes Dr. Bishop's CRISM work on ancient martian rock outcrops.

Congratulations to Janice Bishop

SETI Institute researcher Dr. Janice Bishop has been awarded the prestigious Jackson Mid-Career Clay Scientist Award for her work identifying clays on Mars.  She will be giving an invited lecture at the 53rd Annual Clay Minerals Society meeting in Atlanta, GA, June 6th, 2016.

“Clays are important minerals to identify on Mars because they tell us about the climate at the time of their formation,” says Janice.  “The widespread detection of clays in ancient Martian outcrops indicates that liquid water was once present on Mars and that early conditions were much different than the cold and dry environment today.”

Janice investigates clays on the Red Planet using the spectral fingerprints of these minerals collected by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 

CRISM collects data in the visible and near-infrared wavelength region that includes spectral features due to vibrations of molecules in the mineral structure.  Janice has been analyzing spectra of terrestrial clay minerals in the lab for nearly 30 years in order to document the properties of these indicator minerals by spacecraft sent to Mars and other planets. 

Over the past decade since CRISM has been in orbit at Mars, Janice has been identifying clays and associated aqueous minerals in ancient rock outcrops that provide us information on potentially habitable sites on our neighboring planet.

The Marion L. and Chrystie M. Jackson Mid-Career Clay Scientist Award is presented annually to a member of The Clay Minerals Society for the contribution of new knowledge of clay minerals science as represented by publication of scholarly and original research.  

Janice Bishop
Senior Research Scientist
Discipline: Planetary Geology, Spectroscopy, Mineralogy

Dr. Janice Bishop is a chemist and planetary scientist who explores the planet Mars using spectroscopy. Her investigations of CRISM data of Mars are revealing clays and sulfates in the ancient rocks that provide information about the geochemical environment at the time the minerals formed. Dr. Bishop studies the spectral fingerprints of minerals and rocks in the lab in order to generate a spectral library for identification of these in the Martian data. Her research also involves collecting and studying Mars analog rocks and soils at a variety of locations including volcanic islands, cold deserts, hydrothermal regions, acidic aqueous sites, and meteorites which are the only Martian samples available on Earth to date.

Another component of Dr. Bishop’s research is collecting spectra under Mars-like conditions. Spectra of many hydrated minerals change depending on the moisture level in the air and the amount of water molecules adsorbed on the surface or bound in the mineral structure. Understanding the spectral properties of mineral mixtures in the lab is also important for identifying minerals on Mars and Dr. Bishop’s group is preparing and characterizing the spectral properties of several mixture suites. More Info.